Posted by: thewhitesintokyo | June 9, 2009

E.T. Phone Home

The word “home” means just about a thousand things to us these days. Before we boarded our plane leaving Tokyo on Friday, we were chatting with Rachael’s “seester” Rebecca on the phone. We said something like, “we can’t wait to be home tomorrow!”

She then responded, “So wait, does “home” just mean ‘the country’ to you guys then?” We both said that yes, even a stop in California felt like going “home,” whatever that means.

It’s funny to listen to how we talk about home. I use the word to refer to our apartment, the place we keep most of our things, live for most of the year, and pay rent. That’s our home.

But I also call my parents’ house my home as well. I can’t wait for Rachael’s family to come out to Colorado in a few weeks, see my hometown stomping grounds and stay at “my house” for a few days. Speaking of which, Colorado is certainly home to me as well. Rachael uses the same language for her parents’ home in Minnesota.

Sometimes, home is just wherever we happen to be sleeping that night. Currently, it’s at a hotel in San Francisco, like when Rachael said yesterday, “When we get home, let’s just watch a movie and relax.”

For me, a flexible understanding of home is just fine. I feel pretty comfortable wherever we find ourselves in this huge world, and still don’t feel particularly called to put down our roots and establish a more lasting, permanent home.

Rachael, on the other hand, hears a much louder call to do so. Although we both cherish and appreciate the chance to travel and have all these incredible experiences for a few years, we’re both people that have an even harder time being so far from home, family, and old friends. After three more years in Japan we will probably come “home” to the U.S., find a smallish-oldish house and a couple of teaching jobs, I’ll do grad school, and we’ll start working on adding a few little Whites to our home.

Until then, I guess ‘home is where the heart is.’ Our hearts will be in San Francisco, Colorado, Tennessee, Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana, and ultimately Tokyo this summer, so where is our “home?” Take your pick.

A few images of homes past and present:

My college dorm room in Decorah, Iowa

Inside our 740 apartment.
1st Apartment: 740 River Drive

Callie, posing in front of Rachael’s parents’ home in Minnesota.
Golden Boy Bradley.
Yes, my hometown sign says “Howdy Folks!”

Rachael and my mom cooking some homemade pasta at my parents’ house in Colorado.
Fourth of July BBQ in Colorado.

Our current apartment in Tokyo.



  1. Ok so let's get some pictures of your "grandparent level" homes. I'll see what I have. Great post. I love it when you talk about home.

  2. That was insightful, clever, worthy of…
    (yeah, I really liked that one)!

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