It's been a while. A very long while, and I'm not sure where to begin.
While much happened to me since my last post, the biggest things to happen were my return to Japan and the death of Granny.
Poor Granny first. Since I returned home in August, Granny had been getting progressively worse. Basically, she had Alzheimer's disease. A few weeks ago, she stopped eating and drinking completely, and was going downhill rapidly. Mum was taking care of her, with poor Grandpa still clinging onto some sort of hope that she would pull out of it altogether, and things would go back to normal. It was not to be, and three weeks ago, she was taken to hospital. There, they re-hydrated her, and put her on a drip (at night so that she wouldn't pull the IV out). She seemed to regain her strength, if not her marbles ("Married? Me?!"), and it was looking like she would be getting home to us again. Last week, though, she got some sort of infection in her pancreas, and she left us at 4am on Saturday. I still cannot believe she has gone. I have not cried yet, though I know it's coming. Right now, I'm concentrating on Mum and Grandpa. I have a lot of thoughts on the passing of my Granny, but I haven't the energy to put them down as carefully as they need to be. For now, let it be said that I still expect to see her puff of white hair through the window as I come wandering home at night after work.
Sadly, I wasn't around when Granny went. The cheeky trout chose the week I was in Japan to make her exit.
Yep, that's right, I just couldn't stay away. March 10th saw me standing in front of Tokushima station, feeling like I'd never left. I chose March to return as that's graduation season in Japan, and this year's third graders had been my students since they were in elementary school. How could I NOT go?! So I went, and it was a really amazing trip. I had the warmest of welcomes from everyone I saw. In the space of little over a week, I managed to squeeze in just about everybody I wanted to see. I got lots of cuddles, shared lots of jokes, even played some frisbee, and had the most epic poker game of my entire life.
This was a really eye-opening trip for me. It made me realise that as much as I miss the place, it really is a second home. Tokushima will always be where I left it. I realise that I won't ever feel like a stranger in that land, and that is incredibly heartening, not to mention privelaged. How many people can truly say they feel right at home in more than one place? I also came to the realisation that I no longer have any desire to be an ALT there. That part of me is over and done with. I think I knew this well before I left that summer, but I felt reassured to have it reiterated again during this trip. While I loved every second of my job (ok, every OTHER second), I have no aspirations to do it again.
No, what I miss about Japan, what I truly miss, and what I know will never ever be recreated in my life is the feeling of life being one big holiday. Now, I think 'holiday' is the wrong word here, but I'm not sure what else there is. There was always something to do, somewhere to go, things to see, people to meet. And because we all knew (know) that it's temporary, it gave life over there the special feeling you get when you go on holiday: do it all, cause it won't last. That's what I miss, and that's what can never ever become a normal part of my life. It makes me sad, but I think it's a good and necessary realisation to come to.
Of course, I miss the people over there terribly. Not even so much my Japanese friends. Japan is their home, and I know that in returning to Japan, I will return to them, and they will more than likely be there. But my fellow JET friends. Ugh, the wrench of leaving them again was almost too much. I think it's partly because I haven't found anyone here at home yet that I can talk to in quite the same way as I spoke to my best mates over there. It'll come, I know it will. But in the absence of such relationships here, I pine for the ones I had there, and it's enough to make me cry. The feeling I got when Nate picked me up from the bus station that first day, when I got in his car, and he switched on the tunes, and we started gassing like we only saw each other yesterday... it felt so comfortable, but it served to highlight what is lacking in my personal relationships in Edinburgh.
That'll all change soon... things are moving on. I'm finally getting my house back (come late April), and that'll change things for me a whole lot. But I feel that I won't be in Edinburgh much past the summer of 2008. There's just too much out there to do. I feel like I'm standing at a crossroads in my life, and I think decisions I make over the next few months will affect the rest of my life. I've come home feeling inspired.
Highlights of the trip in brief:
-Poker with the Deer, Saori, Nate and Julie: in this one night, I got FOUR sets of pocket rockets, TWO four of a kinds, was waaay the hell out in front, and then lost the lot to Jord in one hand. Flabbergasting stuff.
-A walk up into the mountains of Higashiiya: all on my ownesome, just me, my camera, and lots of little hamlets. Two hours of listening to the bamboo talk, and simply marvelling at the remotness of it all.
-The musical. Always a joy, and touching to see Jordan so emotional at the end of it all. You done good, Jord.
- Ultimate frisbee: a game Nate arranged for the occasion of my visit. So. Much. Fun.
- The graduation: Such an emotional day, but so happy I was there for it.
- Onsens: Nuff said.
-Inarizushi: Nuff siad.
- BGM, dabaru panchees, vaaaaaaseline, But Fest, secret okonomiyake, rich dads and poor dads, UFC, being pensive in company, viking and all that garlic, that other stuff.
I feel like I have more to report, but truth be told, I'm sleepy, still processing the events of the last week, and getting cold. So here endeth the update. :)