Goodbye (Week XXX)
Hello to you all! This is my 30th entry and it also marks seven full months in Japan. This calls for a celebration! As such, I am declaring today “lurker-exposure day”. If you’ve been reading my blogs at all, I ask you to leave a comment just to say “hi.” I would love to hear from you, even if we’ve never met.
I have an amusing anecdote from work this week. It was a frantic Friday and I had just dismissed a full class. Sari San snagged me in the teacher’s room and asked me to say hello to a prospective student. I was too happy to oblige her and put down my things. I knocked on the door to the interview room and stepped in. Pointing at my name tag I said, “Hello, my name is…” she cut me off, “-Alex.” I thought to myself, “okay, well she can at least read English.” “Yes. Actually it’s Alexander, but you can call me Alex.” She sensed my smart-aleck tone and laughed.
“You look different,” she said to me.
That’s an odd thing to say. I returned with a natural question, “Oh, I’m sorry, have we met before?”
“No. I saw your picture on the school website. I think you’ve lost weight, Alex. Are you dieting?”
I was bewildered. I’ve never had my online presence precede me like that before. It was rather off-putting. I decided I would give her, her first English lesson; never lead off an introduction referring to your internet stalking of them. But my mind quickly changed gears. She said I had lost weight. How flattering.
“Nope, no diet. Just exercise and conscious eating.”
Our conversation continued for a few more minutes before I excused myself to teach a class. I spent the next class partially distracted. I was again thinking about her comment, “I saw your picture on the website.” A very strange thing to say in person. And I couldn’t help but have the feeling that she had been coming on to me. Strange indeed. The day then ended no sooner than it had started and I went home.
I did receive some news this week. I am going to be moving soon. In 18 days to be exact. The lease on my apartment is expiring and my employers have decided not to renew. Rather they have found a new apartment for me. I am both excited and dreading this move. Let me explain why.
First, I am moving. Packing and unpacking is a total pain. I will be moving to a city one stop away on my local train line. My biggest issue with the new location is the train itself. My current local station is wonderful. Every kind of train stops in the Ono. So no matter which direction I am coming from, I am guaranteed a stop here. The new city, Odakyu–Sagamihara, is only accessible by local line. This means I will have to transfer at the Ono every time I want to go to Tokyo. It’s not terrible, but it is certainly an inconvenience.
Additionally, I HATE the idea of living in a city named after a business. In this case, Odakyu. Odakyu is the train line that runs through Sagamihara. So the city was named after the train line. This is wholly unoriginal and disgustingly corporate. Shameful.
Now for the good news! While I haven’t seen my new place yet, this is what I have been told: it’s much closer to the station, it’s on the 7th and top floor, it’s nicer & it’s cheaper. My walk from the station should decrease from 20 minutes to 5 minutes. I will finally have sunlight in my apartment, and assumedly a decent view. It’s a newer building. Because only local trains service the station, it’s cheaper. All together the pros do outweigh the cons. So I’ll suck it up and make the best of it.
My busy week rolled right into the weekend. I woke up Sunday morning tuckered out from a late night with my buddy, Trevor. I went through the morning routine and left my place in a tie and suit. Earlier in the month I had picked up a Sunday Open so my coworker, Emma, could enjoy her birthday weekend. I had taught four classes in five hours as the clock struck 5pm. I grabbed my bag and ran to the train. Next stop; Ebisu.
I met with a lady for dinner. The same lady as last time actually. I was unsure what to expect as she had invited two friends along. In her email, she mentioned two female names. So I thought our dinner was going to be very informal. Rather I was greeted by two women and a man. Turns out one of the names was unisex and suddenly I found myself on a double date. My spirits quickly lifted and we set out for an izakaya. Dinner was lovely; great food and engaging conversation. However I soon was forced to part with my friends and return to the station. The heavy downpour of rain couldn’t keep my spirit down. We bid goodbye. Next stop; Shibuya.
I was to meet my Training Girls and others in Shibuya for dinner. Normally a wonderful gathering was soured by the occasion; Lisa was prematurely leaving the country. She had finished her last day of teaching and was hopping on a plane back to New York the next day. Lauren, Elisha & myself saw to see her off right. A handful of other people had come out for the party, including my first Japanese friend, who I had not seen since January, Take! Even for such a sorrowful occasion, I knew it was going to be a great time with Take!
We left the station and visited a burger joint. Lauren’s friend works at the restaurant and hooked us up with plenty of seating and a group rate. Dinner was followed by a cake and group photos. The end of the ending approached and we walked back to the stations. At the entrance to the subways we gave our goodbyes. It was an especially emotional moment for the girls and I. We have been together through a lot and share a strong connection. It has been mentioned before that if we were all living in the States we likely wouldn’t have become friends. But given the circumstances we’ve rallied together and have become very tight. Lisa was leaving behind a lot. She was leaving Lauren, Elisha & I. And she has left a hole that we cannot fill.
I hugged Lisa goodbye and waved so long to the girls. I turned my back and headed for my own train. The rain continued to fall and my good mood had been sullied by Lisa’s leaving. This sadness was soon made better by the stupidity I encountered at the trains. Man, woman and child had forced themselves onto a crowded train. I strolled down the cars and found my opening. I dropped my shoulder and pushed inside the car, “sumimasen.” The doors closed behind me and we were off.
Since this my 30th blog and a nice round number, I would like to write about something other than culture. So I will use this opportunity to announce what so many of you have long suspected; I am done with Nebraska. I am not moving back.
This decision should be neither new nor shocking. I have long suspected that if I left Lincoln I wouldn’t return. Nebraska, and Lincoln specifically is a wonderful place. I have only the nicest things to say about it. It was wonderful to me and a great place to grow up. Unfortunately what I want to do with my life cannot be accomplished in Nebraska. I need to find somewhere else.
This declaration doesn’t mean that I have decided to stay in Japan. It also doesn’t mean I’ve ruled Japan out. I haven’t a clue where I’ll be in two or three years. I am too young and too clueless to see much past the end of my nose. I will of course continue to honor my employers and uphold all of my commitments.
So the question becomes; Where will I go? Some current ideas include: Rio de Janeiro, Montreal, London, New York, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis. Any suggestions? I feel like I have one big adventure left in me before I really want to settle down with a family.
Obviously there is still much uncertainty in my life, which is thrilling. Let me tell you what I do know for sure. Sometime in the next few years I’ll swing through Lincoln for a long week. I’ll make the rounds and see everyone. Then I’m going to hop back on a plane and start the next chapter somewhere else. Of course you’re welcome to visit anytime.
That’s all for the 30th entry. I commend you if you’ve made it this far! The Good Lord knows I can be verbose. Many thanks for keeping up with my writings. I do encourage you to give a quick “hello” in the box below. Tell me your name and area. I would love to hear from friends and new people alike. Thanks!