Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Demons Within

It's been a month since I left Japan, today, which means that I've been home for a month. I can't necessarily say that anything important has happened since my return to the States, other than returning to school, starting back at my part time job, and reuniting with my friends and family. However, I think it's important that I acknowledge myself, as well as the thoughts running through my head, and right now, I can't help but wonder: What are these demons in my mind?

As many of you know, and probably don't want to admit, returning home to the US was a rather painful experience for me. I can't lie and say that it wasn't, but I understand I should be a bit sensitive when stating how painful it was as well. I am still a fish out of water, despite being on home soil, and it's impossibly difficult to find my rhythm. I am still sleeping at weird hours, trying to figure out how to eat, and fighting whatever is left in my lungs from a year of back-to-back colds. The Japanese class at my University, while more challenging than those at Ritsumeikan in some regards, is not nearly as challenging, and I find myself struggling with my other class, one taught in English regarding the politics, philosophy, and ethics behind many current issues today, despite it being held in my native language. So why am I struggling?

I wonder if this is some sort of automatic defense mechanism to protect me from my own thought process. Naturally, I'm a pessimist, and at times like these, I would be weighing myself down with how absolutely horrible it is to be home. (Perhaps I'm starting to do that . . . ) But this feels different. It's as though I left part of me in Kyoto, and my chest aches. If that's the case, then I can't assume, logically, that I would be functioning correctly with a part of me missing. One of my professors would define this as part of the re-entry process, with or without the reverse culture shock.

Whatever the reason may be, I've found myself sitting up at night thinking about Mibu Dera, a local ramen shop, the heavy dialect of my next door neighbors, and a tranquil breeze while riding a bike downhill. I miss the old ladies who crowd the shopping street near my apartment, and wonder if my older neighbors will still be around by the time I return. The delicious contrast of red-bean paste with bland rice flour, my eccentric culture teachers, and beautiful people. The light seems to filter, as if everything is in the past, despite being in the present. Living through tradition while striving for the future, Japan is a beautiful country.

I'm American, but something strikes me about Japanese culture. When asked, I can't put my finger on it. Perhaps my vocabulary isn't sufficient for the emotion that emerges when imagining the serenity of something so foreign to what I was exposed to as a child, but a part of me needs Japanese culture. I crave the lifestyle not as an addiction, but as a need. I don't think I can reach my full potential here.

Until I can meet with my friends and sit in a dimly lit Izakaya, I  will do my best. Because they're waiting for me, I will succeed.


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