Here follows my thoughts on my day of arrival in Japan.
(Here will follow many a logical progression. I’ve been awake for almost 17 hours, so my brain’s not quite right. Hold on to your butts)
I almost can’t believe I’m here.
What’s more is I can’t believe the feeling I’m currently feeling. But more on that later.
Let’s deal with the first statement. Where am I? At present, I’m on the highway about 10 minutes out of Narita airport and fiddling around with the supposed wireless internet that this limousine bus is supposed to have. I’ve given up and decided to write this instead while the feelings are still fresh in my mind.
A good question to ask at this point is how I got on a bus from Narita bound for Haneda, the smartass answer to which is that I walked up to the ticket counter and purchased a fare. The more detailed answer is somewhat more interesting.
I’ve returned to Japan for yet another stint of “Let’s teaching English.” Why? Yet again, simple answers. I’m a firm believer in simple answers. They make life less complicated. In fact, I’m reading a science fiction book right now called Voyage from Yesteryear that is dealing with that very idea; I highly recommend it and I’m not even finished! Back to my simple answers.
You see, on my first stint in Tottoritown, I fell in love – twice. One was quite generalized and one quite localized. If you’re reading this, chances are, you know who I am. And in knowing who I am you know there are a few things I love more than just about anything in the universe, which include (not exhaustively) Star Wars, cookies, video games, my family, George Carlin, and, of course, Japanland.
Tottori, being the place I spent most of my time, was the place that nurtured and cemented that love, and I’m not just talking about the beautiful, beautiful kanji of its name. The amazing nature, fantastic food, relaxed lifestyle, and last but not least, the incredible people all came together in a delightful combination that caused me to surrender completely and hopelessly in love.
It is also Tottori that introduced me to the second love: a seemingly ordinary, cheery young woman who turned out to be nothing but (she’s so much more!). During my time there, I got to know her first as a friend, then as something more, then as something much, much more. She’s caused me to examine aspects of my life and the world around me that I’ve never considered before and has (and is) continually forced me to grow as a person – not due to threats (though there’s a fair share), but from a genuine want of myself to do better. I am lucky to have found her and have her in my life.
Which brings me back to my original statement and its implication: what am I doing here? Well, after I returned to Canada in 2009, that fantastic young woman took it upon herself to move to Toronto for a year, simultaneously satisfying two lifelong ambitions: to travel and even live in a foreign land, and to endlessly torture an unsuspecting young man. I dare say that she succeeded on both fronts, and after that year ended this June, she returned triumphantly to Japan.
Where did that leave me? And she? And us? Even before she came in 2011, the question we were getting from just about everyone was, “So what’s gonnna happen when she leaves?” “So what’s gonna happen when she leaves?” I’ll tell no lie – I don’t think either of us truly knew what was going to happen. We both had aspirations and hopes, shared and private, but we didn’t 100% have a game plan. That was how it was until this May.
I came across a position on the grapevine, a teaching gig in Tottori, no less. It was (almost) exactly what I was looking for, one of those one-in-a-million opportunities. In a nutshell, I applied, and, after some tribulations with (getting to) the (online) interview, I got the job. I sprung it on her nonchalantly one morning as we enjoyed a breakfast by a river surrounded by mountains in Alberta. The look on her face was some of the best few seconds I’ve ever experienced. It’s really a thing to completely and utterly floor someone.
So that’s it! I gots me a job, and have returned to my favourite place to be with my favourite person. Can’t get more simple that that. Got a job, rode a plane, changed currency (man, the rates suck for coming this way), bought a bus ticket, here I am.
That brings you up to speed, to the minute, with where I am in life. I’ve not forgotten to talk about that feeling I mentioned at the start.
It’s hard to put into words. Since the Big Return of ’09, I’ve been back to Japanland twice on vacation, and I told people upon return to Canada about how natural and familiar it felt as soon as I got off the airplane. It has been about 18 months since my last visit, and that sentiment hasn’t change one bit. In fact, it’s gotten stronger! When I walked through Narita airport, I felt like I was in Pearson – nevermind all the Japanese people and language around. Then I got on the bus.
It was like I was just here yesterday. And not that nostalgic “oh, feels like yesterday”-yesterday, but ACTUALLY yesterday. As in the day before, 24 hours prior. Nothing feels exotic or missed. It all feels100% familiar and natural. The rice patties, the pachinko parlours, the love hotels, all normal, as if life couldn’t be any other way. (By the way, I’m now passing Tokyo Disney).
Did the last three years happen? That’s probably the best way to articulate the feeling. Of course, I remember everything about Toronto, and I should because I was there 12 hours ago. But, as strange as it sounds, everything around me right now feels natural and Toronto almost feels like a distant memory, as though I have to reach back to recall life there.