Monday, June 02, 2008

Coming Full Circle



I don't know why I'm in such a funk all of a sudden... maybe it's due to being a year older, maybe it's because I've made the intention of leaving Japan, maybe it's the stupidity of Chinese visa officials... all I know is I was two seconds away from tearing into the next person who chose to speak to me in fragmented English, which always makes me feel like an idiot... "日本語が話せます! 私は日本語で話していますか? 私は日本語で話していますか? 馬鹿な!"

And the road not taken has been running through my mind more often as of late. Another friend got married on Sunday, another engagement announced, another couple holding hands on the streets of Fukuoka, and I'm wandering around the globe, alone with nothing but my thoughts, choking on my own grief... it may be time for me to start aiming home; I just don't know any better way of looking for the lost. 

I guess making my way back through Hiroshima and Okayama made me more aware of how far I've come, and how long it's taken. I stopped at Sanzoku again, this time able to read the kanji that had so eluded me during my first few visits, which my brother, a non-resident, was able to understand clearly... it was a hospital.

I saw the AEON trainees in Okayama, no doubt spending their first week in Japan fretting over the unknown. One girl is crying on the curb just outside the company dormitory, a guy standing watch, offering choice advice, and no doubt trying to pave the way to get into her pants later... I don't know why we do what we do... it seems to make perfect sense at the time. When I was renting a room out of a house in north Austin, a girl stepped out of her boyfriend's car, practically flushed with anger and needing comfort, and all I could think about was how long it had been since I'd felt someone's touch, needed someone to hold... not exactly the first thing on her mind, I can tell you.

All of us deny ourselves opportunities out of fear and inconvenience. Just as recently as two days ago I overheard a conversation at a restaurant in Fukuoka; a girl was finishing up in Japan, getting her Chinese visa, and taking a ferry to Shanghai. I walked out without so much as an "ahem" or even a look... we were on the same wavelength in terms of travel plans, and I let it pass, for no reason whatsoever.

On the rare occasions I meet someone and stay in touch, it doesn't last; he or she is at the end of a contract, or on a tourist visa, or heading back home to someplace far, far, away from anywhere I'll ever be. Of course we can stay in touch online... and that's all we'll ever do. An email every day. Then every week. Then every month. And then we forget.

Friends back home tell me how envious they are of my travels, how they always wanted to do that, but can't... I tell them of course they can, if they really want to... but am tempted to say, don't leave anyone behind; hold on to what you've got, it doesn't make a difference if you make it or not... stop me if you've heard this one.

All the places I came into this world we call Japan and how I felt came flooding back. The waiting and dehydration at Osaka airport... the first time I heard a Japanese person speaking English. The drainage and never ending hunger in Okayama. The rain, oh the nonstop rain. The tourists in Hiroshima who don't know... they see a dome, a museum, a paper crane, and they think they know... they aren't talking to the hundreds of kids around them, the elders who've lived through it... I'm being cynical, but it just don't think it fair that I was indistinguishable from the people new to Japan... I always am, though.

Even a reminder of the sales tactics of AEON came in the form of a 35th anniversary campaign. This is right in line with AEON's "sunny afternoon" campaign and "today is a thursday" campaign. Remember - there are no discounts, just colorful signs.

I've been twenty six for just over 24 hours now. It rained all day today. I have no possessions, no lover, no job, and no friends ever in my vicinity. I hate it when these floodgates open and I start seeing the truth behind my situation. I'm happy to have done what I've done, seen what I've seen, felt what I've felt, learned what I've learned... but there are always sacrifices. Remember that. Always.

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