Later, dude!

I said my goodbye’s to four different friends today.  Who knew I ever would have even that many friends here?  And they are only a small handful of the friends I have made in Japan.  In a way, it only makes sense.  However, culturally, it was very much unexpected.  I have a bunch of Japanese friends, and I don’t even go out drinking.  How cool is that?  (Fun Fact: A lot of these friends think I just don’t drink alcohol at all, I drink it so rarely.)

Anyway…,as I mentioned to one friend tonight, it didn’t feel like, “Goodbye.”  It felt like, “またね!” or, “じゃあね!” (both of which are versions of, “See you later!”).  Hopefully, that is, indeed, the case.  I really like these people, and I have a feeling that they like me, too.  🙂

Post-a-day 2017

My feet sit still

I have been sitting here for over an hour, not going home.  The semi-excuse was that I was talking with my mom, but the phone call has finished, and here I still sit.  I also had a high level (for me) of caffeine this afternoon, and so I wanted to get the jitters out as much as possible, while I still had the chance to walk around outside and all.  Now I feel the sleepy sliding into place, wishing me to bed.

And yet, here I still sit.

I do not know if I am afraid of tomorrow, and am letting that stop me from ending today, or if I am afraid of tomorrow, but have some other reason that I still sit here on my little piece of green-light-backed bench.  Either way, I can see clearly that I am afraid of tomorrow beginning.  I leave in 12 days, and the planning I didn’t want to do would be coming into effect now, if I had done the planning.  Instead, the events are all floating around, wondering if and when they will be accomplished by me.  I can almost see the Super Smash-like challenge at play around me, each item fighting happily for a place on my life this week and next.  But they all have so many lives, it is taking forever to figure out who ranks where – the current lowest position might still come through and win the whole thing in another 40 lives.

It is such a beautiful night right now, right here, I want to keep it.  I want to roll into a hammock out here in the plaza, and sleep with the cool breeze brushing and rocking me all night, clouds floating slowly by above me, and slight coty noises rumbling off and on in the nearby distance.

But, even still, I don’t want to close my eyes.  I don’t specifically have a desire to remain here on this bench. I also don’t specifically have a desire to walk the block home or to go to bed.  It is not apathy necessarily.  I just can’t figure out what feeling is there.  Because I know that there is something there…

And so I sit, writing this, and taking my time to do so, pausing so as. It to finish and have no other reason good enough to keep me here on this bench.  Here, I am intentionally on my own, alone.  Once I move onward, that will not be the case.  While I am here, there is not much of anything for me to do but to sit and to enjoy.  Once I move onward, again, that will not be the case.

However, the plaza decided for me just now, as it turned off its lights.  No longer is my bench wall green, and no longer are the ground lights shining.  The plaza now sleeps, and I accept that as encouragement enough to send me home.  I still do not want to go, but I certainly prefer that to being in trouble with the security guard who already stared me down earlier, when all the lights were still glowing.

Anyway… yeah…

Post-a-day 2017

But… those are mine – the things we do for love <3

Girls and bracelets.  Seems like a rather simple topic, right?  Just girls and bracelets.  Nothing special.  Today, however, they were both special.

It was my last day going by the school where I have been based this past year.  A student had been in touch to find out this information, and so knew that I was going to be there today in the morning.  When I arrived at my (well, it’s not my former desk, but I guess it must have still been mine, since the stuff all on it was for me) desk, I was surprised by a small and adorable (because Japan) pile of wrapped gifts.  Each one had a different note and was from someone different, both teachers and students.  They all surprised me, but the one that got me ready for tears was the one on a beautiful piece of Rapunzel Disney (C) paper, with “Love” tape to attach it to the pink bag.  It read:

Dear Hannah
Present for you.

From Nono, Yuna

These were the two main trumpet players in the band at school, the two with whom I had spent bits of time here and there, just listening to them play, chatting with them, having lunch with them, taking photos with and of them, letting them paint me (yes, they painted my arms one day), giving them fun jazz (which they had never heard!) music to play, and also playing trumpet with them.  Of course, I am going to miss these two dearly.

However, I never quite expected a present from them.  Let alone the nice little Japanese mirror, charm, and coin purse (or maybe it’s for makeup, even).  They’re designed to go with the whole yukata/kimono getup, and I had never found ones to go with mine.  So it was essentially a perfect going-away present for me!  And they had no idea.  They were just being sweet and giving me something Japanese.

So, a short time later, they show up to the teachers’ room and ask for me.  I rush over to them and shove them out of the teachers’ room in a hurry – no one else needs to be part of this little celebration-slash-goodbye ordeal that’s about to go down.

With the two are a handful of other girls from the band, too.  I thank them eagerly (Is that right?  Let me check… “eager, avid, keen, anxious, athirst mean moved by a strong and urgent desire or interest. eager implies ardor and enthusiasm and sometimes impatience at delay or restraint,” says merriam-webster.com, so I accept it as appropriate in this case.), and give hugs all around.  Some embrace the american social norm, and others delight in it hesitantly, but they all hug me with joy and enthusiasm.  I will miss these guys, runs through my head as we’re all chatting and being silly together, and I know my thought is right.  I will miss them desperately, and I know they will miss me, too.  The simple fact that my successor is not even musically inclined shows the unlikelihood of their finding a replacement-ish for me, and the fact that I am leaving Japan almost guarantees that I couldn’t even begin to find a sort of replacement for all of them.

As we are wrapping things up, so that they can go eat before they have to be back at band rehearsal (to which I had been listening earlier on in the morning, secretly), I notice yet again a comment directed at my shins-ankles-feet region.  i couldn’t hear what was said, as it wasn’t said to me.  Each time it happened, the comment was almost whispered to another girl, just quietly enough that I couldn’t quite hear.  But I could see.

I wondered if they were finally noticing how I don’t shave my legs – I kind of gave up shaving… not sure where I’m going with that in life, but it seems to be the current situation.  I am always happy to talk about almost anything with the girls, despite their often being incredibly shy about most things.  So, as I usually do, I encourage the comment to come to the open.

Finally, someone gets the nerve enough to say it aloud, and I am surprised.  It was not, as I thought, anything to do with my hairy legs (it is dirty blonde, after all, so it isn’t all too noticeable in the first place, but I imagine they’re all accustomed to mine already anyway, plus they seem to love the colors in all my various hairs (since they’re not just black, like Japanese people’s)).  What was the comment regarding?  My anklet.

“She… want… it,” was the oh-so-embarrasing phrase.  And oh, what self-searching consideration I had to make all of a sudden – I was amazed at myself at my success in the matter.

And so, as we all hug once more (or twice more) and say our goodbyes, I watch with a huge smile and a chuckle, as three of the girls bounce off wearing my anklet and two bracelets, all of which I had made for myself a couple or few years ago, and all of which I absolutely love wearing.  But, hey, as I told the girls, I made those myself, so I can get some more Mookaite and Jasper stones when I get back to Houston (I might even still have some, actually), and make myself some new versions of those same bracelets and the matching anklet.  Plus, as much as those meant to me, it pales in comparison to how much each now (and likely for the rest of their lives) means to those girls.  As they say in Japanese, one of them told me that it is her “precious treasure”.  I’m not sure they could have been more grateful, even if I had made the bracelets for them specifically.

I still kind of can’t believe those girls got my bracelets and anklet off of me.  But I also love how wonderful it felt to give away a part of myself to those who so greatly longed for a bit of it.  It was more than just giving away something I had with me, because it was 1)something I valued and 2)something I made myself, for myself.  It really was giving away a part of me.  It kind of feels like I’ll be able to take care of them forever, in some small way.  I like that.

Anyway, that was about ten minutes of today.  A really, really good ten minutes.  🙂


 

Post-a-day 2017

Why you gotta be so…?

Why are we ever mean to others?  Really, truly… why?  

Can we go Taylor Swift on the situation, and have the cycle end right now?

I see potential in this, but are we brave enough?  Is bravery even what it is that we need?  Perhaps love is all we need.  And not even in the cheesy way, but truly.  Beatles it all the way, because all we need is love.

Post-a-day 2017

Hospitality Notes

I found one of the best notes ever, when I woke up the other morning at my friend’s house.

It was on the counter of the bathroom (technically, the room with the toilet).  It read:

Hannah 1/3

Good Morning!
I have few things to tell you.

  • Please make yourself at home ! ! !  Do not stress your self to worry things.

    2/3

  • Use anything in the house.  Do not buy things you do not bring to U.S.
  • Stay as long as you want.  even after I left for U.S.  I trust you.

    3/3

  • Let S—— out from my bed room after you get up in the morning.  So she can stay at the living room. (for food and water)

I was just delighted when I reached the end of the notes.  They were incredibly southern hospitality and totally Japanese at the same time.  The hearty welcome to make myself at home, combined with the fact that the sticky note pages were labeled with page __ of __.  I loved it (and still do).  I love good friends.

Post-a-day 2017

Don’t play favorites?

We grow up always hearing about not playing favorites.  “Don’t play favorites,” and, “Treat everyone equally,” everyone always seems to say.

And yet, I struggled through the constant questions of “What’s your favorite _______?”   I even made up a favorite color, because I didn’t have one, but people constantly asked what mine was.

What’s more, if we look at it purely on a human perspective, not to play favorites, then does marriage even really work?   Exclusivity in relationships would be impossible.  How could I treat someone else with the same passion, love, care as I do my partner?  And then, how could I treat everyone that way?

How could I have an intimate and loving relationship with my mom, if I am to treat her as I treat all others, despite the fact that I spend most of my childhood with her, and not the rest of the world?

I’m not looking to cancel exclusivity or marriage or anything, here.  I’m just wondering at our concepts of ‘treat everyone equally’ and ‘don’t play favorites’.  There seems to me to be a sort of inconsistency in the thinking here – something is missing in our mentality, and I want it to come beautifully to light to save the day… something like that, anyway. 😛

Post-a-day 2017

Miniature adventures on trains

It’s 22:11, and I’ve just sat down on my train home for the night… about an hour after originally planned, and a good distance from where I had intended to board the train.  I am covered in sweat (my own, thankfully), and am still breathing a bit heavily.  “That was certainly a fun little adventure,” goes through my mind, and I smile.  It really was.

About an hour ago, I was on the Yamanote line, heading up to Nippori to catch my train home from there.  A group of four Australian life guards boarded the train, and stood in front of me.  Something about them caught my attention immediately, and had me turn off my audiobook, though I couldn’t have said what.  Eventually, I took out my earphones, too, – it really is a great way to spy on a conversation, wearing earphones with no sound actually being produced by them – and listened a bit more closely to their conversation, because they seemed to be going somewhere quite far, and also seemed a bit unsure of how exactly to get there.

Two of them ended up sitting next to me after my precious neighbors exited the train.  The girl who sat down next to me directed at me a strong, “Howdy!” as she sat, thus beginning our conversation.*

We chatted, and it was fun, and their month-long exchange program sounds quite cool.  However, not the point.  I checked with the fabulous Google Maps to see what time their last train home was.  They were going to Onjuku, which is Really far from Tokyo, and the trains headed for it are seldom and end early.  Sure enough, they were cutting it amazingly close.  Plus, that had totally gone in the wrong direction on the Yamanote line.  If they had gone the opposite direction on this loop line, they’d have been to Tokyo station in plenty of time.  But then we wouldn’t have met, I guess.

My stop came and went, despite their entreaties that I just leave them to chance.  No way, I thought.  I’ve been in your place before – I am so not abandoning you to a likely failure to get home for the night.  You’ll all be welcome to stay with me if you miss your train.

They were going to have 7 minutes to catch their train, which was not one of the standard lines.  I realized quickly that they had little idea as to how to find their specific train (and Tokyo station kind of really sucks with its signage and help on finding the right track for trains – my train isn’t even listen as a line that goes through the station in most places, even though it totally does and it doesn’t change names or anything), so I rushed out with them to help find the line (of which I had never heard).

We scrambled down the steps – I had warned them that it wasn’t a small station, even though it wasn’t the largest – and started searching at the platforms for the train line name (I had given them what name to search: Wakashio.).

After 2-3 minutes, someone found a sign.  I checked it, and it was the right line.  We started running toward the extension area of the station, and found a sign declaring the line 400m in that same direction.

I hesitated then, deciding if I needed to go with them.  When I remembered that I want to help them out if they miss the train, I started running, too, empty suitcase in hand (It makes sense, I promise.). The suitcase slowed me down a good bit, and I had a late start, so I was well behind them.  The staircases just kept going downward, and then there’d be a walkway followed by yet another staircase and walkway.  At last, I found the track, saw the sign still showing the 22:01 train, and guessed that they had to be down there already.  I rushed down, and looked back and forth.  I couldn’t see anyone aside from the train guy standing on the platform.

As I looked around the windows, trying to find them, to make sure they hadn’t made a wrong turn somewhere, and totally lost the track, the train worker checked with me if I needed to be on the train.  I told him that it was all right, I was just checking for my friends.

Gosh, I hope they’re on this train, I thought, as the doors began to close. I just wish I could see them to be sure.  A man came sprinting off the steps, and the doors slid back open quickly to admit him.  No one else was around.  They have to be on this train.

My heart felt like a quarter of it was in my stomach as the train pulled away… and then I saw it.  Male gaijin hair blowing in the air vent, while a pair of male gaijin arms stretched in exhaustion next to him.  That’s they. Those are their shirts, their hair, that guy’s arms.  If the two guys made it, the two girls must be with them.

I still lingered a few minutes near the tracks, just to be sure, but I was rather certain: They made their train.  After seven stops and an hour twenty, they’d all be safely to their beach town again, able to go to their own beds for the night.

Phew!

And so I at last went up to catch my own train home, chuckling at how, for once, I was not the one having to rush to catch my last train home.  Someone lives farther than I do this time.  This last time.

I’m not sure if I would have been so tickled by this whole thing had it been any other day.  But tonight is my last night in my apartment, my last night in my little Ibaraki town.  I couldn’t decide earlier if I were going to stay at my place tonight or my friend’s (down in Tokyo).  Helping these guys was an easy decision.  So I get to stay one last night in my apartment, and say a good goodbye in the morning.

I can do this.
*Note: The Howdy, it turned out, was a ‘just ’cause’ greeting, and they were genuinely surprised to find that I am actually from Texas, where Howdy is actually a normal thing.

Post-a-day 2017