When Tokyo begins to make me want to shove some emaciated, stylishly dressed local in front of the Yamanote train, I miss New York. 

True, I miss New York even when I’m not contemplating murder.  I miss it when I walk down that stately street near Ginza that reminds me a little of Madison Avenue.  I miss it when I have trouble buying a simple present like green tea for my mom.  I miss it when I wake up on Sunday morning and realize that my favorite neighborhood diner is several thousands of miles away in Brooklyn.  And it makes me sad to think that the people who worked at the diner when I was a regular probably don’t work there anymore, and even if they did, wouldn’t remember me anyway. 

When I get off the plane in Texas after flying in from Japan, my mom always says, “It’s so good to have you back home.”  I’m too jet-lagged and in desperate need of a frozen margarita to protest so I just smile and hug her again.  And then I hit the brick wall that is Texas. 

Why is everyone so fat?  Why does it look like all those white ladies with Southern accents colored and permed their hair at home?  Why do all the Mexican-Americans dress either like gangsters or as if Sears just had a blow-out sale?  Why is the service so slow?  Why are there so many pro Bush bumper stickers on newly purchased SUVs and rickety old trucks?  Why do those mega churches resemble shopping malls?  Why can’t Texas be more like Austin? 

Of course, I know the answer to my questions.  Texas isn’t home.  Even when I was a kid it didn’t feel like home.  I didn’t belong here.  At first I thought it was just because I was gay.  I’d get away from here some day, I thought.  And then I got away and realized that not belonging here was much more than just being gay. 

Now I live in Tokyo where I again don’t belong.  New York is a plane ride away.  And I look forward to returning home permanently one day. 

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