As I get ready to leave Japan tomorrow (to visit the US), I feel very secure in my decision to stay a second year. I’ve watched the rice fields grow this time from little sprigs to nearly the height I remember from when I first got here. Everything that seemed so mysterious and new now has a backstory, a lead-up for the follow-through.. but it’s all still pretty mysterious again. I’ve decided that of Japan’s five seasons, I dislike the cold ache of winter and the lethargy of the rainy season, but the other three are actually not so bad, even the disgusting heat of August and summer. The anniversary of my arrival will come and go while I am in the US enjoying those things that I miss while I am here, but I am not yet ready to leave.
But I very rarely am. For the first time in a long time, it’s summer and I am not packing to move. Leaving any place is hard for me, and I almost always make it to the end of any thing in a scattered frenzy of last-minute packing and cleaning and barely making that insert-mode-of-transportation-here on time. I used to imagine that one day, when I am more grown-up, I will be fully ready well in advance and sit stoic for the change to descend on me. But I think that this, like the idea of getting ‘ahead’ on my ‘work’ is an illusory pipe dream, a nice hope, but never realistic. So I’m just going to have to do the best I can whenever I come to any big change or ending to minimize messiness without sacrificing meaning.
I get bogged down in the details. Because the details are what really mean stuff to me.
And even though I’m not having to pack all my earthly possessions and move (back) to a whole new continent, this week is still hard (in its own wholesome way). Stuff is still changing.
There is the more immediate/intense change that goes like, once I get back in a couple short weeks, half of my town’s JETs will be new people, and of the leavers, Heke and Big Brother will be long gone, with The Cat right about to follow on their heels.
And even if it were the same party-all-the-time group I’ve come to love, of Shiso ladies (and Brother), we’re also affected by the slower change of the turning of the year. Not one of us is the same person she (or he) was when I landed in Tokyo. Why should we want to be? Loss is both natural and inevitable. It’s just the piratical side of change, to which the upswing is new opportunity, and new people, places, and ideas to explore.
Even as I type this, cranes are lifting construction materials out of trucks and into piles on our outdoor field. I knew they were going to start work on our school building “soon,” but I had no idea it was going to literally be today. No wonder they made us move our shoes and start using a different entrance! I’m sure that by the time I get back, my workplace will even look different. C’est la vie.
When I return I’ll have plenty of time to clean out my desk and plan for the coming year (since I won’t need to spend that time reading all the materials I got from orientation/my predecessor), visit some club activities (since I won’t be paranoid/confused about where I am or am not allowed to go around here) and maybe even show some kids how much I suck at their respective sports, read novels, and maybe ..maybe even write more! Yay for summer vacation, right?
Ready or not.. it starts now.