Yesterday marked my living in Japan for exactly one year. I was busy in classes all day, but with teachers I enjoy teaching with so work went by quickly. My favorite JTE and I enjoyed reminiscing with the students about how my luggage got lost on the way here a year ago, and how I didn’t even wear my own clothes to my first day at school. At night I met up with some friends for a little shabu-shabu–well, more like a LOT of shabu-shabu; it was tabehodai, or all-you-can-eat, so of course we went to town. (I’ll just add that I can’t believe I moved to Japan a year ago and have only eaten shabu-shabu a total of THREE times. I definitely ate it much more back in the States!) Dinner was delectable, the company was grand. It was, much to my content, an awesome day.
But perhaps the best part of the day happened at the very beginning. I awoke the way a little kid wakes up on his or her birthday and only remembers it’s a special day a few seconds later… when a smile immediately breaks loose. Rather than finding a dripping layer of condensation covering my windows–caused by the low temperatures paired with high humidity, I suppose–as I had for the past two weeks, this morning the windows were completely dry and lucid. The unusually warm winter air and sunny skies called me out onto my balcony, not needing a sweater, and it was so beautiful outside I decided to take my breakfast out and eat it there. I have never lived far from the ocean, but my home in Okinawa is definitely the closest I’ve been to it–the sea is less than a 2-minute walk from my front door. And as I looked out at the newly risen morning sun shining brilliantly on the gently lapping waves of the Philippine Sea, the same view I gazed upon a year ago not with the familiarity and peace I feel now, but with the ache of longing and fear of the unknown, I thought to myself:
I think it’s glad that I’m here.