“There was a time when the world was enormous: spanning the vast, almost infinite boundaries of your neighborhood. The place where you grew up, where you didn’t think twice about playing on someone else’s lawn. The street was your territory that occasionally got invaded by a passing car. It was where you didn’t get called home until after it was dark. And all the people, and all the houses that surrounded you were as familiar as the things in your own room.” -Wonder Years
I’ve been thinking about Kevin Arnold (I know Phil, you have too). If you don’t know Kevin, you should. I read this quote and it gave me all the feelings. When I think about home and growing up, this is how I feel. I was probably one of the last generations to grow up with this comfort, safety and freedom. The streets and neighborhoods were just a big playground. The rock wall, the curbs/cracks on the sidewalk, the shortcuts through the woods-I could walk these obstacles with my eyes closed. I miss that. Looking back can sometimes be harder than looking forward. I’ve been reminiscing-not purposely. Memories have been popping into my head and heart. Recalling events of childhood, there are memories flooding back to me. It is beautifully, painful.
Kevin Arnold also said “Things never turn out exactly the way you planned. I know they didn’t with me. Still, like my father used to say, ‘Traffic’s traffic, you go where life takes you’ and growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you’re in diapers, the next you’re gone, but the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember a time a place, a particular fourth of July, the things that happened in that decade of war and change. I remember a house like a lot of houses, a yard like a lot of yards, on a street like a lot of other streets. I remember how hard it was growing up among people and places I loved. Most of all, I remember how hard it was to leave. And the thing is, after all these years I still look back in wonder.”
I am not scared or nervous about where I am going. I’m sad about what I am leaving behind.
I identified this feeling for the first time today and now that I have…I see that this is how I’ve felt almost my entire life. When I was a child (single digit age) my dad would take us to Comstock, the public pool. My brothers and I would jump off the bunk bed and pile into the suburban. Sometimes, I didn’t go. It wasn’t that I was scared to go-or I didn’t want to go. I hated to leave my mom at home by herself. I wasn’t scared about moving to Arizona, I was sad about what I was leaving behind. I thought I was terrified to move to Japan…but turns out I’m not scared of what is to come, I’m afraid to lose/sad to leave people. But being sad to leave and having a hard goodbye is more heartwarming than an easy goodbye. An easy goodbye to me signifies a weak/nonexistent connection, a missed opportunity to spread sparkle and see the sparkle of others, or a chapter of life has come and gone where love was not present. A farewell only hurts when the impact of the person is positive (otherwise, why say goodbye?). I leave my first Junior high school in Japan tomorrow. Every six months ALT’s are switched to a new school. I’m not scared of where I am headed. I am excited to meet more students and staff. What is hard, is what I am leaving. I left the word behind off that time. When I say “leaving behind” it’s like I’m moving forward and the people who are staying are not and that is not what I mean at all. I am leaving a great group of humans and that is hard, no buts about it. I am leaving just as quietly and smoothly as I entered on September third. Thankful to have been at such a wonderful place.
I remember distinctly as a child-my greatest fear was losing someone close to me. That still is my greatest fear. When I leave…I feel as if I am losing something. Even just going to the pool for a few hours-I felt like I was losing something when I left my mama home. I think it is the fear of missing out giving me anxiety because I haven’t lost anything while I’ve been in Japan, rather I have gained a whole new world. Maybe I overdid it on the caffeine today, my heart is pounding like the sound and rhythm of a runner’s feet hitting the ground as they sprint. Or, maybe it is just that, anxiety. I think I’ve got some feelings creeping up on me that I do not particularly like…I could listen to my intuition and let these feelings come and go as they should…but I know this will include tears and I just don’t feel like crying. Isn’t that strange? I know I am going to cry, I feel it, but I don’t want to. I’ve noticed the past week or two my emotions are riding higher than the high they usually ride. I love butterflies-the kind you get in your stomach (doki doki). Butterflies are when a butterfly is in your belly flapping its wings, right? That’s what I believe wholeheartedly. It tickles and makes you nervous and it’s because something BREATH TAKING is on the horizon (something that makes you nervous-but the good/be brave/in love kind of nervous). The opposite, I have come to know are what I call “moths”. I’ve called them that for over a decade now. I imagine them to be just like butterflies but with thorns on their wings. When their wings flutter they give you a pain like sensation…a pit in your stomach. What scares me is when I get these and I’m not sure why. Our bodies are amazing. We can choose to listen to them when they tell us something-or ignore it. But for me-moths are like that red flag, they are a warning sign from deep within. I will be proceeding with caution but what I think is up ahead is a fit of sadness and tears and I will handle it with grace.
I got home from Okinawa yesterday. I’ve been wanting to explore and been too reluctant to go on a journey by myself. Like a teacher scaffolding a student…I needed some support before I adventure out by myself. I went to Okinawa (by myself) and stayed with an “online friend”. I’m laughing out loud. A person that I had only known through interweb interactions. I would never. But I did. It’s not some catfish deal. This girl, she’s the REAL DEAL.
A friend from home told me, “You HAVE TO REACH OUT TO CHRIS, she lives in Japan!” The friends I have at home are the most kind-hearted, genuine and real people I know. With a high priority suggestion like this coming from a person I trust with my heart, I reached out immediately. Okinawa has also been strongly recommended to me so I started asking Chris questions about Japan and if I could come visit. I hadn’t planned it because I’m not a planner. In Japan-people schedule everything. I hope I become accustomed to this myself. I wrote Chris on Tuesday, asking if I could come Wednesday or Thursday to visit for the weekend-then I bought my ticket. Thank goodness Chris has some wiggle room in her life to accept a visitor on such little/no notice. Sachiko was gracious enough to give me a ride to the airport…she knew I would likely get lost and miss such an early flight. I do miss that 15 minute commute to the Spokane airport.
Okinawa was completely different than [Mainland] Japan. The Military base, even MORE different than JAPAN! I’ve been missing gatorade, peanut butter, jelly, budlight, pralines and cream ice cream, burgers, the laughter and chatter of children, home and the company of sleepovers/family meals. All these needs got fulfilled this weekend and I got to see the ocean (and so much more). Chris and her husband have two daughters who are full of sunshine, giggles, the greatest vocabulary and the cutest brown eyes and personality. Each morning I had a friend beside me-ready to listen to Fancy Nancy. Each night I had a meal with wonderful people. I could write an entire blog about Okinawa-it would mostly be about the people because they were the best part of the trip. Okinawa was great too (even on the coldest days of the year, hah). It was the closest I’ve ever been to a rainforest. A few of my favorite things that we did/saw in Okinawa:
Going to the beach in the rain. NO people, beautiful shells and blue water.
Going on Base-walking into a store and laughing because it felt like I was at home and I was walking into SuperOne. I got some treasures to bring home (Gatorade mix, jelly, peanut butter, shampoo) along with souvenirs. I even used USD! That blew my mind. If I would have let it slip my mind, I would have thought I was in America. However, I was so excited that I was in Japan and seeing these products that I haven’t had since I left the USA.
Clothing-I was able to purchase some regular sized clothing that didn’t make me feel like such a giant (although, with my calorie intake my size seems to be increasing, oops). [You know-the people who love you, love you no matter what. They also think you are the most beautiful human being in the word-and your size has nothing to do with their view of you. That’s my favorite kind of love. Best friend/mama Love.]
LUNCH: I ordered a burger, friend rice and WINGS and then paid with USD.
Regular sized rockstars: 97cents. I buy the smallest redbulls/monsters you have ever seen here [Mainland], for more than 2 dollars.
The trees-I love the trees. I saw a pineapple bush for the first time as well as lots of other tropical fruits-some that were as big as my head! I got to go into a CAVE and learn about Habu snakes.
Touched a large snake. Let fish nibble on my feet. Walked barefoot in the sand.
I collected beautiful shells at the beach. When I got home I was unpacking, (my shell bag was in the kitchen) I kept hearing the crunch of plastic. I thought that the shells were going to fall off the counter, so I went to move them. To my surprise-I became a mom, to a crab! I checked each shell before I decided to keep it, but I missed this little guy (sorry bud, welcome home).
Turns out, being a crab mom is hard. I miss my Sawyer pup.
Spinach pancakes. Bed time stories. Morning snuggles.
Okinawa was my first traveling adventure, while abroad. I did it with the support of Chris and her family. I am excited to see what I “plan” or decide to do next. Thank you for letting me into your home and allowing me to spend time with your family. I have no words to show the depth of my gratitude and appreciation.
Back to the basics
I ordered a pack of bows. As you may know, I was obsessed with bows. Obsession is a strong word. Obsessions for me come out of nowhere and BOOM I am fixated on whatever it is and I WANT it and I NEED it. When I was 18 an obsession with bows began. I was walking through Forever21 at the valley mall. There were 5 bows/a variety of colors. I got one of each. That day I started wearing 1 bow a day. I rotated these bows daily and since I had 5 it got me through the school week and on the weekend, I would repeat. I started collecting bows. I have hundreds at home. I wore a bow in my hair everyday for the next 7-8 years. My best friend and I got matching bow tattoos, too. On days I didn’t wear a bow-people would ask what was wrong and they were right…something was wrong. I didn’t just stop wearing bows. It happened gradually, however I thought since I had one tattooed it still counted as “wearing” one. It was kind of symbolic of me losing my sparkle. The days wore on me and the bows became less and less until I was no longer wearing bows. I’m ready to get my sparkle back. I’m introducing bows back into my life (hair). My hair is the longest it has ever been and IT’S STILL SCORCHING hot, my hair ends up in a bun on top of my head by the end of the day. I do change my hair at least 3x a day-maybe not clothing but the hair for sure. Up, down, braid, bun, down, French braids back to a bun. My latest obsession is Edward Newgate from One Piece but I think I’m moving on. I want to buy a sewing machine-but fabric is such an expensive mania to support. My previous passion was headlamps.
Have I told you how the children/staff take care of their school? There is cleaning time at the end of each day. It is incredible to see and be a part of this.
Today, I got a hug from a student and a card from each girl on the softball team. Hard to believe we speak different languages yet we can communicate.
My most favorite thing… I always use the word “sister” as a term of endearment. I said “hey sister” to a student and later told her why I said that. The next day I got surprised with a “hey sister” from that student. It made me about dance with joy.
The way the students and the staff interact makes me smile. When I first started I was on edge every time I saw children goofing around, running inside, or rough housing. Now, I don’t even turn my head (unless I find it necessary). I’m accustomed to children not being able to touch, talk in the hallway, run inside (or outside for that matter). I’m comfortable with silent classrooms and eating/drinking during class. In Japan-students can touch, talk/sing/goof around in the hallway, run inside or outside, talk in class, but no eating or drinking. Students have the coolest PE uniforms. It is their name-that their family writes on a piece of material and sews onto a shirt. I’m going to take a white shirt to school tomorrow and have a child make me one.
The other weekend people were eating raw chicken. That goes against pretty much anything my health inspector brother has ever taught me about food. I was tempted to try it-but I was scared I would get sick before my trip to Okinawa. I have had more squid, liver, and heart. My taste buds are slow to adjust but they sure are.
Children walk anywhere/everywhere at all ages, alone. I think my mom was walking me to school in kindergarten…these children-they don’t need mama to walk them. Siblings/families are not as close as I am with my family. From what most children say-they don’t get along with their siblings.
Weekends are full of club activity. Some teachers work what seems like 8 days a week. Ok, maybe they have one day off-I applaud them.
I am overly cautious. I know that. My best friend laughs at that. When we would have sleepovers in high school I would get up late at night just to see if the doors were locked, at her dads house. I still do that when I’m in the US. Windows and doors locked. I left my car unlocked ONE time in Spokane and it got broken into. I have let my guard down a tiny bit (still making me far more careful than the average person) but I feel safe in my environment and that’s something I’ve never felt. Last week at the post office, I left my phone on the counter. I realized this when I got home. Walked back and guess what?! My phone hadn’t been touched. At home-it would have been gone.
[2 side notes] 1. I am overly cautious because of my brothers, which is ironic because they are so protective of me. Before I could get out of my bed…(crib days I’m talking) I remember hearing a knock on my window, looking up and seeing a WEREWOLF. The shrill scream of my voice sent my mama in running. My brother had already disappeared-making it look like I was only throwing an overly dramatic fit. Overly cautious from incidents such as this-overly cautious from watching Freddy Kruger before I learned to write my name. 2nd I have sent a mass amount of letters out about three weeks ago. I’m going to be devastated if they don’t make it to Spokane/Texas. I hope they accidentally went SEA MAIL-and will appear this week. I sent my friends Kristy and Terry a letter my FIRST week in Japan…that still hasn’t arrived. I may need to start tracking what I send…especially when I am sending such a large amount of letters at once.
When riding in a vehicle, I still walk to the (US passenger side) right front door which is the drivers side here. Watching a movie where people are driving on the left side-I feel naked…it doesn’t look or feel right. I’m adjusting to car life here.
I’m cooking. This week I might turn my gas on so I can use the stove. Kind of want to see how long I can go without it…but I could probably go my entire stay in Japan. (HAH)
Anything I cook is done by microwave/microwave oven. What I’m “cooking” is: rice, canned tuna/chicken, quesadillas and waffles (I should have smuggled some Ego’s/Pace salsa back from Okinawa). Cooking is an invaluable skill and I have yet to acquire it. Yuko did teach me to make fried rice but that requires a stove and so you can see why I’m not making that at this point in time.
Snacks do not include fruit. Fruit is in its own category. (I think apples are a snack).
Brothers/sisters and children/parents do not talk daily, sometimes not even frequently (few times a year). I always tell people-call your family. It’s important and at the very least it will make them smile.
Moko, the darling who wrote the speech Actions Speak Louder Than Words made it to the NEXT ROUND! That means we will be going to Tokyo to support that lovely, most brave girl. I knew she would make it-PROUD OF YOU SISTER.
I’ve been waking up before my alarm. I just started season three of Prison Break. My ability to tell the age of a person is completely skewed now. I blame it on the FACT that people look on average, about 10 years younger than they are. I thought the guy in Prison Break was my age…he’s 47. I cannot tell the difference between 20’s and 40’s.
I will start working out this week. My transit to school will now take about 25 minutes by bicycle, I guess that could be considered my work out. I’d like to start running again. After all, it is good for the heart, brain and body. We are crazy not to do things that are good for all three of those.
I’ve encountered extreme kindness and friendliness. However, I do remember that there are rotten people. There are less unpleasant people in Japan-but they do exist. I’ve encountered a few.
I was thinking about a “best kept secret” on my walk home today. You know what-I think I grew up the moment I realized that nothing is better kept as a secret. I was thinking of when this would be appropriate. I thought…maybe when you discover a delicious new mixture of food, an easier way to do your hair, the quickest way to defrost your windows…but when you find something great-you should tell the world because then other people will have something great too. To keep something to yourself that could benefit others is selfish-the dirty kind of selfish. To do things for yourself, that’s the kind of selfish people should strive to be. We have one chance to live out whatever it is that our heart desires. When I see people who aren’t doing that it crushes me. All people deserve to be happy and luckily we each have the key to our own happiness. People. People are never meant to be a secret. That will destroy a person quicker than the person who holds the secret. People cannot shine when they are kept in the dark. We are meant to shine.
Halloween is sneaking up. Curious to see what will be done here. PRAYERS: Mama has surgery a week or so before Halloween-this year she won’t hand out candy. We have a tradition of eating chili and cinnamon rolls on Halloween. I hope that someone makes it for you this year Mom.
Alright. Finishing an episode and headed to bed.
More adventures to come.