The flight was short, and we were soon landing in good ol’ weird assed Portland.
Even if I hadn’t known the destination of our flight in advance, I could have guessed that it would be Portland by the sheer multitude of fruity looking damn-near genderless hipster kids clambering aboard. They might as well have had “Made in Portland” tattooed on their foreheads.
We made for the baggage carousel and collected our trappings, speaking all the while of our plans to move to Kyoto. To The Princess’ immense shock, and my own complete lack of surprise, we found my guitar case with notable dings in it (but the guitar intact, thank the Shinto gods!), and the umbrella broken.
The tsuba (or “hilt” as you might say of a Western sword) had smashed into shards during transit. Thus my Ninja Umbrella from Kyoto did not survive the trip home.
Umbrellas, even ridiculous ninja ones, are a symbol of romance in Japan, and The Princess took this loss particularly hard.
“How can this happen?!?!” wailed the heartbroken Princess.
“Because American baggage handlers don’t give a fuck. C’mon, Honey, let’s go.”
“But it’s their job to handle other people’s things.”
“And nowhere in their job description does it say they have to handle them carefully, and they probably don’t get paid enough to care.”
“This doesn’t happen in Japan.”
“I know. But we’re not in Japan anymore. Let’s go home.” The word stuck out like a bent nail.
“Is this home?” she asked.
“It is for now,” I replied.
This would become the theme of some 95% of our conversations for the next several months.
We collected the remnants of our umbrella sword, the same which we had walked beneath in the snow swept streets of Kyoto. We took a MAX train from the airport to PGE Park, and rode in silence.
All had become quiet. We said very little to one another as the train carried us back to where our journey had begun. Even our hearts were quiet, and only hushed further as we neared places increasingly familiar, and traversed the strangely broken concrete of the streets and sidewalks of America.
Everywhere large, rough, and dirty fixtures accosted the eye. Trash and broken things laid appallingly in the gutters and scattered across the sidewalks.
Nighttime had descended, and our dream of Japan faded into the darkness.
We clambered up the steps to our apartment, turned the key, and walked out of our dream, and back into our Portland lives.