Tokyo Orientation was exhausting. Full of lectures, welcome receptions, late-night karaoke, and people who like Japan just a little too much.
Yesterday, it rained. It rained while leaving Tokyo, and it rained on our arrival to Aomori. I thought with the clouds I wouldn’t be able to see anything, but as the plane descended, all of a sudden right outside my window were the Shirakami mountains, and I mean, rightthere. Green, lush, dense mountainscapes – a mix between a pointier version of Appalachia and the NW rainforest. I was greeted by two of my BOE (Board of Education) supervisors, and we made the 3-hour trip back in intermittent chatting, watching the little green dot of our car travel northnorthnorth on the GPS screen on the console. There were 24 JETs on the trip up here, and then, there was 1.
Shimokita is beautiful. Beautiful in a woodsy, rocky, seductive sort of way. There are roads I’ve never traveled reaching towards the inland directly from the sea. There are mountains I haven’t stood on top of yet, and I haven’t even put my feet in the water. There are signs bewaring of bears and the elusive snow monkey scampering around these forests, somewhere, just waiting to be seen. The only light I see at night are fishing boats blinking away in the distance. If that’s not seductive, I don’t know what is.
From my house, on a clear day like today, you can see Hokkaido rising out of the water. I am reminded that this country is nothing but an archipelago. The Junior High School is a 2-minute walk outside my door, and if I stare out my living room window, there’s just this expanse of garden plots, with hunched old sun-protected women bent over their tools. Everything is so different, and yet, the difference hasn’t quite kicked in yet. It will. Just a matter of moments. And at some point soon, I will register the fact that it’s just me up here, on this little tiny island, floating somewhere out at sea.
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Lest I become too caught up in the now/present/immediate of arrival, a couple personal goals I’d like to not lose sight of. Here goes.
-Become conversationally fluent in Japanese
-Keep my body and mind healthy, happy, and active
-Remain upbeat and curious even in the face of dire loneliness, absurdity, and cultural clashing
-Create relationships with my students
-Learn to be infinitely ok with stillness
-Make at least one Japanese friend
-Read lots of books
-Stay connected, focused, and in love with life, friends, family, and of course, love
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As I sit here, warm in my bed at 108 Gold Hill Court, Samson curled up and purring on my chest, J snoozing next to me, I am thinking of all the things yet left to do today, and the whirlwind this week and the next will become. Can you blame me for savoring the last bits of “normalcy” and comfort of life as I know it, or rather, life as I love it? A specific quote by Mark Twain rings in my ears. Twain says,
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
This quote has reentered my life recently after six long years, and it serves as a good reminder as I embark on a journey I am both incredibly nervous and excited for – though stressed seems to be the emotion at hand currently. I am sailing away from my safe harbor – my people, my place. And I am sailing away from this deep-seated desire to settle. To put down roots and grow deep. But the momentum of my life keeps carrying me on (thankfully) and I am hoping that by offering up my own life’s momentum to chance, that some day I will discover that I am exactly and accurately right where I am meant to be. So watch me sail forth, world, let’s sip champagne to my safe return. I’ll catch you on the flipside.
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