Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Typhoons and Playing Catch-Up

I've had a heavy feeling in my stomach for awhile now. I feel as though I'm guilty of something even though I know there's not a real reason to feel that way. The more I think about it, the more I come to realize it's because I don't want to go home.

This is going to make me sound like a horrible person, and perhaps I am for even thinking this, but I don't really have a desire to return to the United States. I love my family, friends, boyfriend, coworkers, but I don't want to go back. I feel more at home in a place where I stand out easily in a crowd than I did in a place where I spoke the same accent, dialect, and played my part in the majority quite well. I'm sorry to those of you who are reading this. I'm hurting a lot of feelings and a lot of mixed emotions will probably come from this, but please understand I'm writing this as a way to come to terms with my own thoughts on two countries I love: the United States and Japan.

I know there are things that I can do in the United States that I will never be able to do in Japan. No matter how hard I try, no matter the visa or legal status I obtain, I will never be Japanese. I was not born in this country, and while this may sound quite racist or close-minded, I think that to some extent, I would have to look the part to be Japanese in this society even if I were a white woman born in this country. Even if I speak the language fluently, I will never truly "fit in" in Japanese society. I will never be able to erase the more American aspects of my personality. I will never truly understand what it's like to refrain from saying my opinion, I will never be able to completely work towards the group rather than an individual, and I will never fully be able to submit myself to a lower status than my male counterparts.

With all of these things said, I do not feel any differently about my desire to live in this country. Perhaps I'm one of the lucky exchange students, but Japan is home to me in a way that my hometown in Texas will never be. I know many of my friends cannot wait to return home to lands of cheese, cheap food, driving one's own car, and Mexican food. (I have to admit, the unavailability of Mexican food really takes it out of you sometimes.)

I do not regret living in my hometown or growing up in Texas. I think that it is a great place to raise children, especially if you live in a town in which the balance between open-minded and close-minded people are present. I'm glad that my town was relatively rural, but that I have had experiences (good and bad) with people who are stubborn and those who are willing to try new things. And I'm very thankful that my family, while stuck in their ways on some matters, encouraged me to try something different before making a judgement. Without their support, I don't think I could have ever experienced something so exciting, terrifying, and something utterly enchanting as my life in Japan.

Maybe I'm still young, and I'm not necessarily in love with the place where I grew up. I love the memories of my house in Texas, the moments playing with my cats and dogs outside, swimming in my pool in the summer, and enjoying the times, happy or sad, with my parents and relatives. These are things that I will treasure always.

I know I'm stepping on some feelings and I feel guilty for saying it, even though it's my own opinion, but I am in love with the country, culture, and people of Japan. i feel as though I should be crying over my family and hometown in Texas, but I feel like the land of the rising sun is calling my name.

Maybe my mind will change when the rainy weather clears up, the cockroaches invade my apartment, and I've had my fair share of final exams, but as for now, I am truly dreading the moment when I pull out my dusty suitcase from under my bed.

I can feel the tears well up in my eyes as I think of saying goodbyes, even though I know I will really be saying, "See you later!" and "We'll meet again sometime soon." I have made a great bunch of friends here, from all over the world, and it's really hard to imagine life without them. My departure from this country will be sometime in the near future.

I don't like it.

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