2 hour bus ride. 12 hours of flight. 4 hours of sleep. 3 hours in transit. 3 countries. 1 hour delay. And 1 random bag search and pat down later, we’re here in America.
Since it’s been years since I’ve returned to the US, I’ve decided to chronicle my adventures with references to Odysseus, another man finding his way home. I’m not the first to do this. It’s one of the most commonly recreated myths. James Joyce wrote Ullysses, about a day in the life of an Irishman that closely follows the original tale. And the Coen brothers’ film O Brother, Where Art Thou is another adaption of the story.
The Odyssey is the saga of Odysseus (or Ullysses in Latin) who unwillingly fought in the Trojan War. After years fighting to a stalemate, he thought up the Trojan Horse, which led to the conquest of Troy and the end of the war.
Now free to return home to his island kingdom of Ithaca, he and his fleet attempt to get back only to experience various monsters, giants, seductresses, and the wrath of several gods. By the end, he is the only survivor and he arrives home to find that his palace is filled with suitors for his queen, Penelope. They eat everything, rape the servant girls, and generally make a nuisance of themselves.
Penelope had for years delayed choosing a suitor because she believed Odysseus to be still alive and also because choosing a suitor would lead to violence from all the other men. She probably also enjoyed the independence. A novel from the perspective of Penelope was written by Margaret Atwood called the Penelopiad. It’s on my reading list.
Windysseus and Tomolope
My own Odyssey will be quite different. Not only will my Penelope be traveling with me, I also have no idea where my Ithaca is. Is it my parents’ home, which I’ve barely lived in? Is it Oregon where I lived for 10 years? Is it my hometown in Southern California, where I have no plans to visit this time around? Or is it Tokyo, where I live now? As I wrote earlier, I’ve had so many address in my life, my home is wherever I am. Or as Ursual LeGuin wrote I am “always coming home.”