Dec 8, 2006

Is this post emo? God, I hope it isn't emo. It might be. Oh well.

I'm starting to feel it- I'm starting to feel the first pangs of homesickness.
I'm not writing in despair or anything, well, not yet, but I'm definitely missing Oregon. It's weird. It's not really an all-pervasive thing- it's more like every so often, for a period of about fifteen or twenty minutes I will intensely miss home.
I was in a 100 yen shop (100 yen is just under a dollar, and 100 yen shops have basically everything in them) and this Marvin Gaye song started playing on the PA system. I don't know which song it was, but I recognized the voice. It had been Japanese pop a moment before, and suddenly it switched to Marvin Gaye. I was looking at plastic containers to use as classroom organizers, and stood far back enough so that I could only see the Arabic numerals on their labels. I squinted a bit, lost sight of the Japanese script below the numbers, and listened to Marvin Gaye for a few moments. For a few moments I thought about what it would be like if one of the salespeople came up to me and said, "excuse me, is there something I can help you find."
And that was it- that was my momentary fantasy and reverie for a period of about one minute in store. My fantasy had no weirdness, no sex, no outlandish things such as dinosaurs or UFOs- just a momentary daydream about being able to speak, however prosaically, to a stranger. I think that's when I knew that it was starting, that I was dropping ever so slightly down the curve of the chart, that I was about to find out what it was like to miss home.
Since then, I've had moments- nothing traumatic, but moments where the awareness of my incredible situation is eclipsed by my awareness of my separation. For a few moments I seem struck by a bizzare blindness wherein I no longer am curious about where I am, where I do not try to figure out Japanese speech, where I do not attempt to learn new things. Instead, I simply want something familiar.
After the fact, these moments are frustrating. I'm here to learn, and to have moments where I occasionally rebel from my ambitions seems emotionally and intellectually cowardly. However, I know that those after-the-fact reflections are in themselves immature, that homesickness is something natural and expected, an extension of one's love for family, friends, home, etc. It would be pathological in its absence.
I know that I will adapt. I know that I will develop something like a simulacrum of a "life" here (I'm already doing that, really) and put my mind at ease. But for now twenty minutes of sadness surprise me every so often. It will not lasts, but it pangs while it persists.


Joseph said...

:-( Cheer up, emo kid.

Anonymous said...

I have those moments of intensely missing Oregon when my aunt sends me to stupid events at the stupid Smithsonian with "young" benefactors. "Young" meaning the men are late thirties to early forties and the women are twenties to early thirties. Also, wearing pants that are two sizes two big and a sweater when everyone else is in a satin dress makes one also miss oregon. Stupid smithsonian and its young benefactors.

Katie said...

Damn. I meant too big, not two big. It lessens the authenticity of my rant.

Kori the tomorrow lady said...

Almost everyone I know when through at least a few weeks of going straight from their apartment to work and back, with as little "foreign" interaction as possible. They just holed up and waited for the overwhelmingness to pass. But then they were back out all night and having a blast.

It sounds like you have decided that you will be here only one year, and I think that can make the 'shock' easier in someways. (I'm here till whenever so if I hate Japan I'm more screwed than you)... but my point- when I was an exchange student here my cousin had some sage words.

A year can be a long time, but really, it isn't.