Over my first three weeks in 山口 (Yamaguchi), there have been moments when I have completely forgotten I am here. Completely. They have all been quite brilliant moments because every time you snap out of them, you get this little tingle and realization that screams: “Yes, I am still in Japan!” Wait, really… am I, though?
In these interconnected modern times, is it possible for someone to live in a devastatingly foreign country and not actually exist there? My vote is yes. And I am pretty sure it is happening all over the world, which is a bizarre phenomenon and further proves how connected this already small world has the potential to be.
If I was so inclined, I could wake up every morning in Japan to the sounds of the familiar voices of the CBC or MPR (thank you Internet!), make a pot of Tim Horton’s coffee, grease up on some eggs and bacon, catch the Twins highlights, Skype my mom, and then mosey on out the door to work. At work, I could mumble a few “Ohayou Gozaimasu’s” before knocking out a few English lesson plans, followed by a few “Otsukare sama deshita’s” and… the day is over. I could proceed straight back to my apartment, make pasta (with Kraft Parmesan Cheese!), and catch up on all the latest news from home. Anyway, you get the point: besides the humidity and smaller river crossing, I am straight back in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
A few friends of mine and I have been discussing this in great length lately. What is this foreign bubble and how do we deal with it? Is it okay to hide inside the bubble? Is it even a bubble? Pop! There, the bubble is gone. No, no… bring it back! Man, it is a comfortable place to be. A quite lovely place to be — similar to being wrapped up in a brand new duvet on an equally new tatami — cozy and warm…secure.
Everyone has a different reason for being in Japan, albeit, I believe them to be of a similar variety. It is inspiring to hear the stories I have heard thus far and the connectedness that comes with each story is literally fascinating. I have not figured out exactly what my reason is yet, but I do know I need to find a balance. I need to watch Japanese television as I fall asleep. I need hang out with my friends from all over mankind. I need to bathe at an onsen near Hiroshima. I need to create something. I need to struggle through conversations in Japanese. I need to let loose and spend entire weekends wrapped up in intense conversations with friends. I need to keep in contact with home. I need to drink Pocari Sweat. However, most importantly, I need to become myself.
I am not here so much as to discover myself as I am to become myself, if that makes any sense at all. Japan does something to me. There is no way to explain it, but it does something to me. The entire environment, the struggles, the laughter, the people, the politeness, the loneliness, the randomness, the questions you cannot have answered — it all affects me and allows me the opportunity to become real. It allows me the opportunity to realize that there are these little pockets of reality all over the world, and we are all somehow just trying to sort it all out.
There are so many beautiful people here that it undoubtably makes my heart and head burst with emotions I did not know existed.
My eyes, ears, and heart are wide open for the first time in my life. I can run. I can skip. I can jump. I can cry. I can laugh.
I feel closer to the world.
This is where I need to be.
Things are just getting good.