The quest for closure. What's it mean to end one life and begin another? How much of that old life do you keep? How many of those people do you try to keep in your new life? I want all of them - per usual greedy Steph - but I'm finding they're going to take a lot more effort than any relationships I've tried to maintain before. I think it'll require a thought change as well.
As far as my personal life and government life goes, I can't shake the feeling like I've forgotten something. I was super organized, so it's pretty much impossible that I forgot something and still it just feels like with all that busy-ness there HAS to be something I've forgotten.
I'm getting a lot of comfort from my mementos and keepsakes, though. They help to remind me of how I felt and that Japan was real. Yesterday I picked up the books and winter clothes I'd sent back with Jackie and Antoine when they came to visit. It was nice because there was a memory board and some Japanese dishes I could get excited about in there as well. It was a little upsetting when I first got off the plane and stared at my two suitcases and said, "this is it??" I feel much better now that more and more of my stuff arrives at my door, but even so it's weird to think 4 suitcases and 2 cardboard boxes are my only tangible proof of two busy, busy years in Japan.
It's weirder yet to think that if I hopped on a plane right now, my apartment wouldn't be there as I remember it. I keep thinking, "Did I ever eat that cauliflower that was in the freezer? Did I remember to bring my DS charger?" I always quickly realize that I must have, considering the apartment was absolutely empty when I left. While I've been sad not to have a new ALT successor, there are perks like knowing I left nothing behind by accident in a successor's inheritance.
More importantly, though, not having a successor means I don't feel like I've been completely replaced. Sure, Stacy is working my job, but she's got her own life and so there's no creepy (and angst-generating) feeling like she's stolen mine. Though in a way I do feel like I was robbed of a little closure. I spent 2 years believing I'd end my time in Japan by handing my life over to someone new - teaching them the ropes and completing the full JET circle. I spent a lot of time imagining what that would be like, and then it never happened. I told Stacy some stuff, then I cleaned out the apartment and turned in my keys. The end?
The odd part of all this is that, while I feel like things ought to still be the same, I still feel so permanently disconnected from it all. It makes me feel like I should already be sending out emails or cards to people back in Hokkaido. But why? I'm not settled yet, nothing has changed, there's no news! It's only been two weeks. Still, I feel disconnected. Of course, this makes sense in a very natural way; It's just confusing, that's all.
And yet, to be honest I rarely think about it because home feels so much like home...though even so, if you put me on an airplane, Hokkaido would come rushing back to me and instantaneously push the US out of my head. For being such a future-and-past thinker, I'm such a here-and-now feeler.
As I always say, so much about international moving is just doing what you have to do. When I'd leave the US and return to Japan, I was never "leaving my home." In my mind it was always me "going to the airport." I wasn't "moving out" when I left my apartment, I was "packing a suitcase." The last two years was just me doing what I knew I was supposed to do next. That's all I could wrap my mind around.
Absence is always hard to fully understand (I think the length of this blog entry proves that). Life in Hokkaido is exactly the same for all my friends who stayed, minus me and a few others and plus a few more. That makes a huge difference and really no difference at all. For me, it's weird to think I won't go to another ALT gathering in Hokkaido. Sapporo Orientation, the Halloween costume contest, mid-year conference...all of it will happen without me and I won't be missed. Then the other day I saw a festival picture on Facebook and thought, "Hey, who's that girl? I know so many of the foreigners in Hokkaido JET circles, so who the hell is that!...and wait, who's that guy? And that other guy, too??" Then I remembered over 100 new ALTs have come to replace those who left. Oh, right. The yearly change ACTUALLY happened, even though I wasn't there to see it. But here I am living well in the US, so this mourning isn't usually something that REALLY plagues me.
Anyway, family in a new house, friends god-knows-where, and a new job, new apartment, new friends, and new life on the way.I had no idea what I was in for upon my return home and somehow this life I could have never imagined two weeks ago is actually happening.