Upsetting
Monday, April 21, 2003
 
Dear Lettie,

In the end, not even Japan could save me. Not the pastoral bliss or the urban blitz; the ceaselessly vibrant and polite people; the warm soup and embryonic high-speed Shinkansen. I vowed from there I would return to the States a changed a man, charged with the knowledge that there were people outside the United States cognizant of one another and the fact that each person is merely one single component of a large community. That each person had a responsibility to the fold, as it were, to not let the side down.

And it worked, for a while.

But I’ll get to that in a little bit.

First, I wanna see how you are doing, and how you like living abroad, as they say. I always told myself I would leave the United States, that if I had so many issues with this once-great nation of my birth, I should just get off my ass and do something about it. I have traveled a fair bit, but I never really pulled up the stakes and left. I suspect that I subconsciously told myself that some day I would become the father of a child (meaning the baby would be born here), and that I would want it to be born with U.S. citizenship. Until I sat down to write this letter to you, it hadn’t crossed my mind that it was pointless and somewhat paradoxical to want my offspring to be of this country when all I wanted to do was leave it. Maybe I was hedging my bets, in case I decided to come back to the United States with my child.

Whatever the case, I never left the United States, and now it’s too late. I’m in the endgame, as it were.
 
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