Tonight for dinner we had

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, September 13, 2016 9:41 PM

Justin spoke those words – "tonight for dinner we had" – this morning when we talked with him. It was the first time we’ve heard his voice since he left so early on the morning of July 1. He’s been in Japan and still is, at least for the next two weeks. It’s a 16-hour time difference so it’s hard. We text, we email; we Facebook. He has dinner when we’ve yet to rise. 

Yesterday he sent a text and asked what we thought about joining him in London for Christmas. The tour will be there from December 21 through the 30 and he thought it might be a nice place for a family reunion. Christmas in London. How Dickensian. Figgie Pudding and all that Scrooge. We looked at flights, not for before Christmas but perhaps just after. We sent a text saying that we should connect today. Just before 7 this morning, we got a text. 

“Hey guys. You up?”

We were awake if not yet up but we got up quickly, took the dog out, started some coffee and settled down for a chat. He told us all about Japan and what they’ve seen, how they’ve settled into the culture. When Justin was little he discovered Pokemon and quickly became enamored with the game, the characters and especially with anime as well as the Japanese culture. As he grew up, his fascination only deepened. He learned to like the food, and studied the ancient Japanese Samurai. He knew he would love it and we just hoped he wouldn’t be disappointed. He wasn’t. He has learned some of the language, loves the people, and is forever amazed at how helpful the Japanese are. 

They’ve been to nine cities thus far with the last one coming up in a few days. They’ve traveled the country by bus and by bullet train. Eventually they’ll make their way back to Narita and fly out of Japan and toward England. 

He told us about each city, about the castles, about the ramen which he was infatuated with before he left and has now fallen into full-blown love with. Evidently ramen is very big there and it’s especially easy to find ramen restaurants that are open after the last shows. The crew goes often.

He told us about the weather, about the pedestrian traffic which is evidently out of control. He said that he would live there in a heartbeat, that if he could get a job, he would move there. Kelsey, his girlfriend, isn’t so convinced. And so they’ve discussed taking two months or so for an extended trip to truly engage. 

He sounded great. He was happy and funny and easy, his usual self. He’s loving his life, even though he’s been working quite a bit and doesn’t necessarily plan to continue with the tour after they eventually end in Australia and New Zealand. The experience is amazing, by his own account. 

We talked about New Year’s instead of Christmas, which we think we’ll do. We talked about how much time he’ll have off between London and Stockholm, the stop after the UK. We’ll rent a flat; perhaps he and Kelsey can stay with us. He loved that. 

Then he yawned. And said “tonight for dinner…” and we smiled because it was still just after 8 our time. His life is so different than ours on so many levels. It’s as it should be. I couldn’t help but find meaning in the idea that he had already lived his day, this day, while ours was just beginning. On one hand, it seemed to symbolize us being left behind. On the other, perhaps the fact that we will now forever be trying to catch up to him. Soon he would be going to bed and rising to start the day again, chasing his life, chasing his dream, chasing the sun in the land known for rising. I – we – couldn’t be more proud.

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