25 October 2018

Thirst for hunger

I moved to Japan on the eighteenth of October two thousand and three, although as I think of it now, we missed our connecting flight in Seoul and ended up arriving a day late, nineteenth October, a Sunday afternoon, not knowing for sure if the news had gotten through to the small church we were meant to be serving. Only my second trip abroad, I didn't know what I was doing, had packed hangers in my suitcase like this was the thing I would need most when I arrived. We touched down and made our way out into the arrivals — people were there to meet us and we rode through the city to Imajuku, to the church and a whole congregation of nervous people waiting to welcome us. I remember thinking that it wasn't what I expected. I remember thinking that there were more rice fields, it was more rural, but in an urban way. Rice fields and then overpasses. Concrete rivers and vending machines.

Coming out of Newman yesterday, a green mini comes tearing up the street and I have a flash of anger at the students who can't behave themselves and make the University look bad — I'm like my own parents, telling off some kids they don't know like it's their responsibility. I get through the gate and ask if the guy coming out of the car is a Newman student, and he's incredulous, of course he's not, why am I asking, and I'm walking away telling him to never mind and he's following after me. I pull out my ear buds, turn and say, it's because I don't want the students tearing up and down the streets like that, but he can do what he wants, and he launches into a litany of complaints about the students — he lives here, his parents live here, the students make it hard for him and he can't get out of his house. And so I say I'm sorry — I'm sorry that he feels that way and that the students have done all the things students do. I'm sorry about his father, about the anger, about the people that can't do anything. If there's anything I can do, I will do it. I give him my card and we shake hands and I run home.

We mistake thirst for hunger too often. I found myself finally, after years of trying, able to stop eating when I'm full, to not panic at the end of a meal. How silly to write that out, to tell the truth, but it is the truth. I panic when I eat too much, or I used to panic when I ate too much. At some point the past becomes the past, but I'm not sure when you can use the past tense. I used to be be afraid. I am still afraid.