Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Speaking of Goodbye

Goodbyes Lurk
While I've been distracted with house renovations in a faraway land, preparing income taxes, gearing up for the new school year, and continually wondering where our darned separation from the Navy orders are, my friends have been thinking of our departure. Apparently Kendo Mama and Ikebana Mama were talking.

Kendo Mama asked me how I felt about having a goodbye at the Yochien. I was startled. She was concerned about how it might effect the Moose to have everyone repeatedly saying goodbye. We parted, but I told her I would talk it over with the kiddos and that until we have orders, we have plenty of time.

An early arrival
I should complain more about my husband's wretched work schedule because immediately after I wrote about the unrelenting pace he has been enduring, his schedule was messed up for three days. He arrived home in daylight. My children stared at him. The Moose asked, "How did you get home so early Dada?" I was also preparing dinner which meant we could all eat together, a novelty around here.

I Float the Suggestion
Sitting at the dinner table, it seemed like an excellent moment to bring up the mama's suggestion for a goodbye at the yochien. The Moose, out of the box, said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!" The Mule said, "No. No way. I don't want to do that." I didn't expect it to go that way.

Bilingual Ballbusting
After school today, the Mule entered the house, walked into the kitchen and said to the Moose, "You embarrass me when you speak to me in English at school." The Moose can't fathom why on earth he should wrack his brain to speak Japanese to his sister. His sister took to Japanese like a fish to water. She can bust balls and twitter bilingually without batting an eyelash. The Moose looks worn out at the end of each day. His Japanese is fluent but has an intensity behind it as if he is forcing it out.

I feel for the Moose. She won't speak to me at school since I can't speak Japanese which leaves me wandering around in a haze unless some nice mama takes me by the elbow. The Moose, however, is hard to ignore. He gets demanding. I'll let them sort this one out. I wonder if in the States she'll refuse to speak Japanese for the same reason? This could get complicated. Hopefully, we'll find some Japanese speakers to keep her going or perhaps audiobooks in Japanese? Some visitors? Something.

Departure Stuff
The very thought of leaving sat with me today. I'm not sure I can handle a long drawn out goodbye. If I let my thoughts go to how much this community has done for us, how much  my friends have done to help me, my heart breaks open and I feel the tears well upward. It's a terrible affliction, particularly in a culture where few words are said about tears.

I was hoping the ending to this story of living in Japan would really be the beginning of my children's adventures in Japan perhaps in a study abroad semester during university. They could look up old friends, say hello to their teachers, and generally return to explore their memories of childhood in Kamakura for themselves. I also hope at least a few Japanese friends will come for a visit in America. Having an idea, a plan, for the future makes it feel more manageable.

This departure stuff is going to get messy.  Despite my fervent wish to go home, I can't see a way to avoid my feelings- feeling grateful, feeling blessed, and feeling lucky. For some reason those feelings feel so big that I can't contain them and when they overwhelm me, I cry.

How do you thank someone who saved you from drowning? How do you thank someone who gave you food and drink, who nourished your spirit, who let you in, who never made you feel like an outsider even though you are? How do you thank someone for showing you the way? How do you thank someone for being your friend?

I'm the one who can't go to yochien and say goodbye! I'll be a wreck. That's probably why the Mule doesn't want to go- she knows I'll cry and, horror of all horrors, speak English. I think I'd better wait for those orders first, a birdie told me it can take months.

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