As I head into my final two months of living in Japan, I continue to panic.
I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do with myself, even immediately after I touch down on American soil (hug my mother, lavish affection on my pets, lug overly-full suitcases, pull a muscle). Following that, I’ll pop down to San Francisco to say hello to this handsome specimen. And, I suppose, his owner, too. Then, I’ll be applying for a job with an airline (I have an in!) to finance my continuing education (initially at community college) and the obsession with traveling and not staying in the same locale for more than four-day stretches at a time I’ve developed while here.
So it’s not the future that has me panicking. Some of it even sounds– dare I say it?– exciting!
No. As may also be the case for many others also returning, I panic because I don’t want to say goodbye.
Life here has been good to me. Maybe better than it has been at any other point. Each year has been fairly different, with a different core of people I spent a majority of my time with, but they’ve all been so incredibly enjoyable. I’ve had such a good time here that I’ve managed to spend only thirteen weekends entirely in Ono. And fortunately, the JET salary is good enough to cover the ridiculous amounts of yen I’ve spent riding the Shinki buses.
Some highlights of the Ono to Sannomiya route include a store called Weed very close to the Miki bus station, the golf course I’ve never seen anyone at, and the winding road next to a river close to Kobe. It’s so beautiful and I will take a picture (or five) of it eventually! Maybe even later today. I don’t have so many trips left on the Shinki bus, so I gotta get it in while I still can. I only have nine weekends left in Japan, and looking at my Excel spreadsheet detailing what I have and plan to do while I’ve been in Japan fills me with existential dread. My life will change in pretty much every way in such a short time, and it’s impossible that I will remain unchanged. Who will I become? Hopefully someone who continues to travel an absurd amount.
During my time here, I’ve managed to visit thirteen new countries. As expected, a majority of these are in Asia, but I also managed to get out to Europe twice! Should you feel the need, you have the ability to stalk my trips through the Hyogo Times website. I’m still trying to throw all of the bits and pieces I acquired from these trips into these dumb scrapbooks I’ve been making, but who knows how well that will turn out? Soon, everything needs to be packed up and shipped off…
My apartment used to have an absurd amount of knick-knacks strewn about. As of writing, my cards and postcards are still up, as is what I refer to as my nerd tree (and which has been up since November 2013; nerdiness is always in season), but nearly everything else has been stuffed into a box and sent back to America on a ship. Which I heartily recommend to everyone sending their life back home: it’s significantly cheaper than EMS or Air Mail (especially if you’ve managed to acquire gigantic boxes and subsequently packed them to the brim) and, at least for my most recent package, takes a third of the advertised time. And I believe there are fewer restrictions on sending things like watches (four pocket watches have fallen into my grips– it should surprise no one that three of these are Sailor Moon). One of my most missed bits of decor are the Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune figures which I proudly had displayed scissoring whilst Haruka held aloft her sword in glee. My room feels so much less exciting without them.
Also much less exciting will be life without those I’m leaving behind. I can’t name everyone off who’s left their mark on my heart, but I’ll try to keep these short and not sappy. Try being the operative word. Tiffany and Abby, you made the weeknights in Ono so much less soul-sucking. Larisa and Devon, all the drinks in Kobe and the disgusting conversations we had will leave a permanent layer of scum on my gut. Mandy, we managed to not start hanging out until relatively late in the game, but I think we’ve really packed it in! Scott, thanks for all the trips, man. To those who’ve left before, are leaving with me, or I didn’t mention, I love you too. It’s been fun you guys.
Change is terrifying, but also necessary, and good. Often, it’s the little, incremental changes that have the largest overall impact on our sense of self and ability to relate to those around us. So of course, I say to hell with these! September will mark a new era in a most dramatic fashion.
Though I panic, I hope I can accept the change heading my way with grace. I’ll probably just binge more Steven Universe instead, though.