30 July 2008

Matsuhama Church: Party #2

Matsuhama Church: Party #2
When: Sunday, July 27th after church

Where: New church building, Tayuhama, Niigata City

Who: Church members

Backstory: There is no place more weighted with meaning for me in Niigata than Matsuhama church. It is one of the first places I went when I came here. It is right in the neighborhood I (then we) lived in for almost four years. I met Yoko there. I was engaged there. The pastor married us. Despite all that, I have recently been feeling out of place there (well, I mean more than usual) given my lack of belief and interest in anything Christian and feel rather detached whenever I find myself there. I also wrote about this party earlier and I was dreading it for what I thought would be long, boring speeches and needless drama. It was, in the end, nothing like I expected and I was surprised at how hard it was to say goodbye to these people who, as I said in my little speech at the end of the party, were really our family in Niigata. I even thought I might tear up when I was talking.

Food: Spaghetti and hamburgers and rice and watermelon.

Things learned: In her speech, Yoko said the most profound thing about her life the last couple of years--something I had totally missed. She said that when she came to Niigata, she had to come as a student and her title of sensei (which is a word of respect and honor) was lost in that process. And then she married me and lost her last name in that process. And then she had Naomi and lost her full name in that process because now she is primarily Naomi's mother. And now, as she goes to England, she will lose her language. She wondered, in front of the group, what would be left of her or who she would be in England--that she was happy to be blessed, but sad at the same time.
I, in my hurried preparations to get everything done, had missed this and watching her talk, I remembered the Yoko I fell in love with three years ago and how much older and more weathered we had become in such a short time. I am disappointed in myself for not seeing it. It reminded me that moving forward is never easy or without cost and for as good as this move is, it is not perfect and it is not going to be easy for all of us. And although I guess I knew that going into the process, hearing her say it so eloquently makes me much, much more cautious.
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