me ‘n’ my boys


About 10 hours from now I hope to be flying from Austin to Chicago and on to Tokyo! I do hope the Chicago weather does not force delays but it’s a lot better than yesterday.

Younger son Fred Nugen and I pooled all our frequent flyer miles to make this trip possible. We’re going to visit son Rob Nugen and his lovely and lively wife Rinko Hayashi, aka Lin. Though she and Rob came to the States last Christmas for a Texas-style wedding, this is the first time to meet her extended family. I have a list of names and relationships to review on the plane. After all, 2.5 hours to Chicago, a 3.5 hour transition, and about 13 hours from there to Tokyo. They are 15 hours ahead of us in time.

Fred has very sophisticated tastes! He insisted that at least one leg of our journey would be on Singapore Airlines, business class. He’ll probably take too much luggage, too, and just says that’s the way he rolls. I am taking an extra rolling bag mostly full of gifts instead of my usual one bag and a backpack.

Jon and his daughter Alicia and I had a “farewell” lunch at Magnolia. We had bought a coupon at the Holiday Swing auction and it was about to expire.

The first time I visited Rob in Japan was in the fall of 2003, the first year he moved over there to teach English. I arranged a series of excursions through a travel agent to enjoy a number of tourist sites. Kyoto, Hakone, Hiroshima, and Ft. Fuji are among the highlights. Rob went with us on some weekend excursions; otherwise he was working.

Now I’m not exactly a tourist since I have some sense of the country and the people–tour guides, schoolchildren, monks, other tourists, crowds in the fashionable Shinagawa, Geisha girls, businessmen, shopkeepers. It will be different this time to meet Lin’s mother, two sisters and their families, some uncles and aunts. Her youngest niece Yuu is 6 months old.

So, not a tourist, but a guest. Rob and Lin share a small apartment with her mother, so they have rented an apartment for us about a 5-minute walk away. Perhaps the next time I visit I will feel less like a guest and more like family.

Those of you whose children have married have probably gone through a bit of anxiety about the new in-laws. The cultural differences will also be a factor–family members hail from Taiwan, Brazil, Japan, and the U.S.

Rob sent detailed instructions on which trains to take from Narita Airport to Shinagawa. We’ll probably take the Keisei Line to Nippori station, and then the Yamanote Line to Shinagawa station. He gave information about currency exchange, a number to reach him and say which train we’re on, and a meeting place at the station. I think he’s done this before!

So, I needn’t worry about a thing. My bags are packed; clothes are laid out and ready to put on; and a sense of adventure is growing. Curious about what lies ahead and the stories and pictures I’ll bring back. What an extraordinary opportunity!

Fred, Kathleen, Alicia

Fred, Kathleen, Alicia

buying cat food; see boot for broken foot

buying cat food; see boot for broken foot

Alicia and Jon

Alicia and Jon

pre-travel lunch with Alicia and Fred

pre-travel lunch with Alicia and Fred

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