The search for tickets started. Having a Chase United card was helpful, piecing together four available seats on each flight segment was somewhat challenging with some bumps along the way. On a late spring evening when the kids were chased away from the computer and out of the living room, Mrs. Shwarmabob was toiling away in the kitchen, I am staring at open spreadsheets and search engines on the screen and spent so much time with a United rep on the phone that Mrs. Shwarmabob started to come in giving me looks wondering whom am I smoozing with. This can be especially unnerving when she still has sharp objects from the kitchen in her hands. Concurrently, frightening sounds emerging from the kids’ room make me wonder if the house will be demolished while I am trying to concentrate on my conversation so the United agent gets us to the correct destination. Even so, like Odysseus on his way home to Ithaca, I bravely sail through these challenges, the stars align and I get our reservations confirmed. I announce my victory to the family, smiles and stunned disbelieve follow. My vacation time gets approved at work the next day– phew – another milestone completed.
Now, it’s time to improve on our rather measly knowledge on Japan. For the next few months, the local librarian must wonder why a frum family takes out every book on Japanese gardens (Mrs. Shwarmabob), castles and history (myself). Peter Barakan's Japanology Plus (highly recommended!) from NHK (Japanese Broadcasting Corporation) makes its nightly appearance on our YouTube screen in the living room. Tokugawa’s battles are discussed at the dinner table. By the time the summer comes along we great one another with “Ohio Gozaimas” instead of good morning and Ms. Shwarmabob reports to her brother who is away in yeshiva that Tatti completely lost his marbles. The teens conclude that there was not much to that to begin with. Anyhow, they are busy with school. B”H at least Mrs. Shwarmabob shares my enthusiasm.
The best part of a vacation is a change of mindset. The journey starts in a person's mind. The trip starts with your inner journey. The two weeks that we are going to be away is extended to several months of planning, preparing and daydreaming. The anticipation and excitement makes those tedious corporate meetings and miserable commutes much easier to handle.
To be fair, finally, a week before departure Ms. Shwarmabob tells me sheepishly: Dad, I am really excited about our trip. Bubala, just about time!
Shwarmabob Jr. naturally decides to dwell into the shogunate’s history just as the time comes to start packing the suitcases. If it wasn’t for Mrs. Shwarmabob, he would end up without pajamas, underwear and toothbrush in Tokyo and I am not even sure that he would be bothered by the lack of these mundane items.