Published: June 2nd 2009June 2nd 2009
I bought my plane ticket back home the other day. I'm leaving the dorm on the 29th of July, spending the rest of that day and that night in Fukuoka, then flying out of that airport at around noon on the 30th. Then to Narita in Tokyo, then to Seattle. From there, I have about a seven hour wait until I get on a plane to Helena. My parents and I were playing around with the idea of them driving from Montana to pick me up, but in the end we got a cheap flight, which will save them 20 hours in the car, me 10 hours in the car and I'll get home that much quicker, so I can unpack, see everyone and eat American food quickly. I've been writing up a to-do list since I've been in Japan for when I get back to Montana--it mostly consists of eating food that I can't get here in Japan (good cheese, cereal, souvlaki, deer, etc.), but also things like driving really fast, playing video games with my brothers, petting my cats and dog and backpacking. I add a new thing once every week or so as things come to me, but the list is still pretty small...twenty or so items in total so far.
A friend of mine who I went to high school with who's half-Japanese is in Japan right now as a little break from work, but since she's up in the Tokyo area, and we both don't have a lot of money (and she's only here for another week and a half or so), I probably won't be able to meet up with her. Unfortunate.
I bought a bass a few months ago and I've been practicing pretty much every day. A friend at the dorm has an electric guitar, and we're finally starting to learn some songs together. It gets boring playing with just a CD in the background by yourself, but he's been playing his instrument a lot longer than I have mine, so I hope I don't suck too badly when we finally start jamming.
School has been going well this semester, though I find half of my classes not worth going to because they're too easy. I can learn the stuff on my own in half the time, and then have that other half to re-study past grammar forms, kanji, etc., which is better than waiting for everyone in class to finish practice sentences as I twiddle my thumbs. I feel bad for skipping so many classes, but in the end, I'm learning better that way, so I guess I don't regret it.
Things with my girlfriend have been going swimmingly as well, I'm glad to report. Maybe too well. I told myself the moment I got to Japan that if I did get a girlfriend, I would be breaking up with her in the end when I go home, no matter what she has to say about it. I simply can't do a long-distance relationship across the Pacific ocean and more than 15 hours time difference. Well, let me rephrase that: if I found the love of my life here, then I could do it, but my current girlfriend is not that woman. She's a great person, we have a lot of fun together, blah blah blah and all that good stuff; but in the end, I definitely know that I cannot spend the rest of my life with her. I'm still dreading the fact that we're ending our relationship when I go home, though. It's gonna be sad, for sure, but I knew that before we started dating. I figured the happiness and good times that I've had and will have with her outweigh the sadness that we're both going to go through when I return to Montana. Though sadness shouldn't be looked down upon as a negative emotion, not at all; in fact, even though I don't want to experience it now, it'll be a good time to do some self-reflection and figure out a little bit more about myself as a human being being thrust into the real world a bit quicker than anticipated.
But speaking of marriage, I cannot imagine myself married within the next ten years. I can't even begin to fathom how much love and understanding that kind of a commitment requires. I feel that one should marry one's best friend, but in my case, he's a guy, and neither of us are gay, so that presents a problem. And I can't imagine a girl as awesome as that guy ever existing. Oh well. Who's to say that marriage, kids, a house and a mortgage are what constitute a good life? I've kind of been taught from various sources throughout my entire life that those things are required for a good life, and I certainly don't want to be alone my entire life; but I've been playing with the idea that solitude in the sense that I wouldn't have a family of my own isn't such a bad thing at all. But we'll see, eh.
Now that I've set the time of my departure, the days have been passing by as quickly as all the newborn butterflies fluttering about campus during these muggy days in Kumamoto. There's a twisting in my gut, barely noticeable, but getting stronger day by day, that is threatening to blossom into full panic and Japan-homesickness before I even leave this wonderful place. It's gnawing at the back of my head, and I can't quite shake it, no matter what I'm doing or who I'm with...unless I'm pissed-out-of-my-mind drunk (which I haven't been for quite some time, parents, so no worries). I'm not going to retreat into a bottle to alleviate this itch, though. Better to trudge through this swamp of waiting with a clear mind and clean body, focusing on the details I've grown used to.
Reverse culture shock is going to suck, I think. Excruciatingly. I call upon my family and friends to help me through that, like I know you all will, and deal with my inevitable downer moods for a while before I get used to being home again.
On a lighter note, the rainy season should be starting up in about a week or two, and then it's about a month of rain every day; humid, muggy, oppressive days that will start to grate on my nerves, no matter how much I love the rain. But, my dormmates and I have a very awesome plan: buy speedo's and swimming goggles, then go out in the rain on our bikes and ride around like maniacs. Hopefully we don't get picked up by the cops (again).
Speaking of cops, I was racially profiled the other day. I was riding home on my bike with a dormmate after some vigorous exploring in the mountains around Kumamoto, when a cop car rolls up behind us and orders us to stop. We pull over, the cops ask if we speak Japanese, I say yes, they start asking us questions. Where were we? Where are our passports? Where are we from? What are we doing in Japan? Normal questions from the Happy Police State's minions. And then they ask us if the bikes we're riding are ours. Yes, we say, we're renting them from the school we go to. They check the serial numbers, run them through their database, and say yes, these bikes are in fact owned by Gakuen Dai. Thanks, cops. But since we were riding around without our lights on (just like every Japanese person in Japan) they want to see our IDs, which we weren't carrying because we were out exploring, and we didn't want to lose them whilst in the mountains. So the cops follow us back to the dorm, where we retrieve and show them our Alien Registration cards and Gakuen Dai student IDs. Blah blah blah, we get lectured for not having our lights on, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. End of episode.
The funny thing is that another dormmate was on his way home from shopping when the cops pulled him over in broad daylight to ask if that was his bike he was riding (which it was). Apparently a bike was stolen in the area, and because we're foreigners, we're obviously the ones that did it; how barbarous of us!
Fucking cops. Nice of them to their jobs when it doesn't fucking matter, and be racist at the same time.
I've been seeing shit like this the entire time I've been in Japan. This nation is not very...sensitive towards foreigners, not in the bit. One of the nation's favorite foods comes from Portuguese missionaries from back in the day; the name is two kanji meaning "southern barbarian." Southern Barbarian Chicken, mmm, mmm, mmm! If there was something like that in the US -- say, Chink Noodles or Nigger Pasta -- people would freak the hell out.
But that's everyday life in Japan.
As you may have noticed, I have a love-hate relationship with this place. We're working it out, but very, very slowly and with a lot of bumps and setbacks.