07 July 2009

Getting back on the horse

I need to get back to writing more. I have been playing a lot with Facebook, but it doesn't give me what the blog does: a clear, searchable account of my life. Everything on Facebook goes away it seems — the blog is always here and I like very much being able to look back a year or two and see what twenty-three year old Stephen was thinking on whatever date it is.

As we near the end of our first year in the UK — coming up in September — I'm getting nostalgic again. I shouldn't be; we have a long way to go. Still, when I finish my dissertation on September 7th, I will be done with this MRes and moving up to the big kids' table. Now I have a very small, controlled set of data that I am doing small, controlled things to. Come October, I am going to be tackling something much larger: the construction of  'community' through discourse and what role  Internet discourse is playing in changing or manipulating what we understand 'community' to be. This fits in, slightly, with a project my supervisor has just gotten a load of funding for, where she will be the principal investigator for a study on the poetics of empathy. The first researcher has just taken residency here and they will be looking at some focus group data about the perceived threat of terrorism, among other things.

I have also been feeling very homesick for Japan as I am reading Murakami's new novel '1Q84' in Japanese and following a couple of my gaijin friends' lives via the Internet. What I forget about my time in Japan, the thing that seems to completely gone from my memory, is all the time I spent teaching English and dreaming about doing something better, something greater, something that was more fitting to my ability. I forget what it was like to lead pronunciation drills and read, mindlessly, out of a textbook. I forget how angry it made me when people asked me the most silly and inane questions about America. I forget about the ninety minutes I spent, week after week, in my adult learning class with people who never, ever improved. I forget all that.

I remember, instead, all the inbetweens. Riding my bike in the mountains outside of Shibata, for example, which I only got to do for about four months. I remember one Saturday morning, I woke up at 5:30 and I remember coming through the foothills of the mountains, the sun rising and mist hanging on the rice paddies while the old men and women from the village were out in the field. I remember being able to afford coffee at Starbucks and anything else I wanted or needed without any thought to whether or not we would have enough money. I remember the rivers, and I remember running up and down the Matsuhama bridge. I remember that as I was running I was imagining myself, sitting here, in England doing the very thing I am doing.

I fight this constantly as a person, wanting something else, wanting what I've given up and never content with what I have. I am always looking backwards and not learning to value what I have now and what I have now is something incredible. Last night, I ran around Caldecotte Lake which is about a mile from our house and maybe about 3 or 4 miles in circumference. It was almost nine, but the sun was still out, and I ran as hard as I could for a long as I could. It was cool and all the birds were out on the lake. I ran back to the house and as I came up our street, I looked up at the apartment and Naomi and Yoko were looking out, waiting for me to come. Naomi was so excited when she saw me; she shouted out and waved wildly.

I remember that after we moved I thought, I never want to pack up and move to another country. And again, I can't remember that feeling. I can remember the thought, but I can't remember the feeling.

I suspect none of this is going to go away and the best I can do is keep moving forward and try, as hard as I can, to appreciate that moment my daughter waits for me, looking out the window. Because that will be thing I will be pining for next year, I'm sure.