A few days ago, Tom was told that this year would be his last in Tokyo and that it was time to go home. That discussion was inevitable – we knew we wouldn’t settle down and retire in Japan, it’s just that we didn’t expect it so soon. But we should have. We came to Tokyo in 2008 on a 3 year visa and when we leave in June we will have had 4 glorious years living in Tokyo. They certainly haven’t been all fun and games as all of you know the months after 3/11 were not easy for anyone living here but the experience was one that has changed my life and the lives of everyone in my family. It’s amazing to me that both my sons will have graduated from the American School in Japan – they will be connected to this place for the rest of their lives. And the Japanese culture, people and way of life are woven into the fabric of my daughters’ beings. They are forever changed for having “grown up” here in this safe and culturally rich environment, where they have been given the freedom to explore and adventure on their own. I’m sad that in a way that sense of independence will have to be tamped down on our return home. You just can’t wander around NYC at the age of 12. So 2011 comes to a close with reflection on our time in Japan and thoughts of the future in America and with sadness and a sense of loss as well. We are excited for all our wonderful family and friends we will return to but it also means saying goodbye to the people who have become like family here. We will take them all back with us, packed in our suitcase, represented in the photos we took, the treasures we purchased, the places we visited and the times we we pulled each other through. Leaving is like ripping off a bandage but returning is like the wound that suddenly heals when exposed to the right elements. Here’s to new beginnings in 2012.