This morning as the aroma of simmering miso soup permeated our kitchen I realized how familiar and ordinary this was to me now.
As I gently stirred the miso paste into the pot with the long cooking chopsticks the pungent smell of miso brought back memories. I remembered the trips to visit my husband’s family in Japan before we moved.
Every morning my mother in law (Okasan) arose early to cook breakfast and we were awakened to the smell of simmering miso soup, a standard part of the Japanese breakfast. We would lay quietly for a few minutes, snuggled warmly under the thick futon blanket in the tatami room and listen as she bustled about the kitchen-the aroma of simmering soup drifting under the shoji doors.
When we left and returned home to Saipan I remembered how the smell of simmering miso always aroused a homey and warm feeling as it reminded me of Okasan and the times we spent in Japan with family.
This morning as I bustled about the kitchen preparing the same breakfast Okasan always prepared for us, I realized that the aroma of simmering miso -something that was once part of a memory that belonged to a foreign country- was now part of my everyday life.
But deeper than that, this foreign country was now a part of my heart. It was no longer “foreign” to me.
I can now say-I’m home.