After making our way back to the hostel, I used one of the lobby computers to skype home. I could see and hear my family but could only interact through the keyboard. Molly walked by and squealed and pointed to the computer screen, she thought I was looking at a picture of myself- in fact, it was Madeline. Others that took turns looking at my real-live family in America compared my features and mannerisms to Mom and Dad. I laughed; rather I typed ‘haha.’ It felt like I had been sprinting around the world and home life had been stretching, gearing up to join me when I returned home. I stunk of fish, had not slept, was typing on a Japanese keyboard, in an alley hostel in Tokyo. Back at the starting line, Mads, Hayl, Mom and Dad gathered in our familiar kitchen; sun streamed in from our patio door lighting up their bright faces. Watching them, I could feel the warmth of a meal at that kitchen table with that winter Wisconsin sun toasting the family with illuminating memories. The conversation ended as we rushed out the door to go begin another Tokyo adventure.
I had begun our backpacking adventure with my backpack, the clothes I was wearing, a dress, a swimsuit, a toothbrush, and my trusty travel bag. On the second day in Tokyo, I was therefore on a quest for underwear. Cat, Meena, and I had checked out of the hostel with only a plan. We had been on the North East side the night before so we were heading to the South West side of Tokyo: Shibuya. On the way in Yoyogi, I spotted a GAP from the metro window. So we got off, I ran in, and began my search. All underwear was an XXS, XS, or S- I guess this is telling of the American physique. I picked up two pairs of underwear and two pairs of socks. I checked out for $66: My most expensive pair of underwear. Reality Check: we were no longer in one of the developing countries that I had been used to since September. This was even more expensive than the US, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
While I scoured the store, pulling on my underwear, trying to ask where I could find it, Cat and Meena had run into a few SAS students. They were also looking for a place to stay. Word on the street was there wasn’t a single hostel, hotel, or motel with vacancy that night. Our night of homelessness began then: in between a four-story GAP store and a busy metro station in Yoyogi, Tokyo, Japan.
We made our way to Akasaka, where Stephen, Casey, and Stephanie had a hotel. It was a pristine district. We were reprimanded for jay-walking a street that was no wider than a sidewalk. We peaked through some tall shrubs to see a bride descend a spiral staircase into a garden. When she reached her groom loud and festive music started playing. When we reached the hotel, white Christmas lights had been lit up and down the streets adding the elegance of the area.