25 December 2007

Flyin' Birds Down South Tour, Day 2

I am now back in the land of my Japanese birth: Fukuoka. So many thoughts about so many things after the jump. For those of you only interested in the quickie and no self-introspection (which will probably also contain some 'bad' words and negative thoughts about organized religion), here is the only thing that matters. It is December 25th, and we have the window of the hotel room open to let in a bit of a breeze.

I am back in Fukuoka where I first came to Japan as an (depending on who is asking) English teacher or missionary. I believed in a lot of things when I came to Japan, and my first year in Fukuoka pretty much changed everything. So my return here, I expected, would be bittersweet. I had selfish objectives for returning, namely that I wanted everyone to tell me I had lost weight and my Japanese was very good because, let's face it, when I lived here I was fat and I spoke sloppy Japanese. My less selfish objective was that I wanted to speak to some of the people at the church who had really taken care of me while I was here without having to talk through a translator and maybe be able to thank them for everything.

Unfortunately, most of the people I was really close to have either left or were out of town this week, so the only people I ended up seeing were some of the church folks that I only knew a little bit. They did, however, all say what I wanted them to say and they were all much more interesting now that I can talk to them directly. We went out to lunch with the pastor from the church, who is quite possibly the sweetest man on the face of the earth, and had a very sweet conversation in which I was able to say, in some small way, thank you. So those goals were achieved.

We also had the goal of going out to the beach where I want my ashes tossed out when I die. I realize that this is a stupid and morbid thing for a 25 year old to think about, but I do think about it. This beach is where I used to study Japanese and walk and think about God. One time, I even waded into the water, up to my waist. I wanted to show Yoko, so we rented a car for a ridiculous amount of money and went out there for about five minutes. But it was completely worth it.

We also drove around where I used to live. I felt like I was looking for something, some sort of feeling that never quite came. It was weird how I remembered all the streets. I couldn't explain how to get there or where to turn or whatever, but I just knew when we were there. I think I was hoping for a nostalgic feeling, but all I really felt was a sense of familiarity with everything.

I have wondered, to Yoko, why is it that I ever left here? I know the answer, but its harder to understand now that I'm back. The black cloud that followed me around here lifted when I left for Niigata, but now that I am back, I feel like this is where I have belonged all along. Of all the cities in the world I have been to and the limited number I have lived in, Fukuoka is the best. It is beautiful. The people are polite, but not too polite. The sun is out in the winter and so are the people. You can eat ramen on the street and see plays. You have the mountains and the sea. It's all here.

I think we are all, to some extent, ruled by two things: our expectations and our disappointments. All of this is tied into these things: what I wanted, what I got, what I regret, what I don't. I don't regret leaving Fukuoka--now I have a wife and baby, Japanese ability, a much better developed sense of self, a masters degree, and twenty less pounds of body weight. But I regret leaving Fukuoka. And everything that I left to achieve has disappointed me in one way or another.

I finally realize that's it is that way with everything I have ever experienced in life. And it will be that way with everything I experience in the future.

Anyway, it's good to be back.