If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.
I’m not one of those people who likes to quote quotes so much, but I came across this one by Paulo Coehlo and it seemed especially poignant. Within a year, I’ll be moving literally from Tokyo to Atlanta, and emotionally from having a mom to not having a mom. Usually, when I know I’m moving, I just skulk off in the middle of the night without warning and disappear. I would tell as few people as I could as late as I could. I hate the way people look at you like you have some terminal disease after you tell them your plans. Soon after, I can tell they have “checked out”. Since my mom passed, saying goodbye is especially hard. I’ve been walking around with a perm-a-grin similar to the Joker from Batman. I am loath to admit this, but I feel fragile. Sometimes I’m grinding my teeth so hard trying to keep the smile on my face I feel like my eyes are bulging. In the big picture, I know I am being selfish.
FROM THE OTHER SIDE
A few years ago, when I was ready to accept yoga into my life, I formed a very close relationship with my yoga instructors. Balance Yoga is where my inner yogi was born, and it was there I joined a yogi sisterhood. One day, I showed up to class to find out that one of our instructor/friend/yogi/sisters had just left. Evidently, unbeknownst to me, she was having some marital issues, and she just up and left in the middle of the night. Shut down her Facebook and phone and fell off the grid. It was so shocking. It left us all dazed and confused. It was the first time I cried after a yoga practice.
Tokyo is a place full of good-byes. Every 5-6 months there is this period of time when everyone is getting together to say bon voyage. I don’t blame the Japanese for being reserved. I get it now. For some of us born B.F. (Before Facebook), friendship requires more than a click on the “Like” button. Forming bonds and establishing friendships means an emotional investment is being made, and, like most things, you get what you pay for. As sad as I am to leave this wondrous and ethereal place, I am looking forward to being somewhere where I can invest for the long-term without worrying about early withdrawal penalties.
YOU’RE GOING TOO?
Nghi happens to be leaving for their next assignment in Beijing. She insisted Cliff, Chase and I come over for dinner at their place. She treated me to a night off from cooking and all of us to a terrific meal. It is nice for us to be leaving at the same time because I think I would feel saddest to leave her behind. She is so special and waaaay too good for Michael. Michael’s a good guy, but honestly, he should thank God every day to be so lucky. I can’t wait to hear about their move and “new life” in China.
Today’s good-bye coffee was nice because we were a table of women who were all relocating out of Japan. No one is being left behind and it’s a lot less sad.
I have started to just do coffee appointments because I was booking so many sayonara lunches and dinners. Now I’m all jacked up on caffeine all day, but I think it helps me biking the tough hills and my Joker smile.
ST MARY’S INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL
Chase has been moody as well. I’m trying to help him through it. Fortunately he’s not one of these macho types who doesn’t believe in therapy. He actually suggested taking a meeting with the school counselor to talk about transitioning. He’s so renaissance. I love it.
I know we had issues in the beginning regarding school placement. Who doesn’t? Somethings you just don’t know how it’s going to work out until you give it some time. Cliff and I both agree (did I just write that?!?) putting Chase in St. Mary’s International School was the best thing for him. It is the closest thing to a Japanese learning environment a non-Japanese speaker could experience. In an all-boy environment Chase learned being a boy/man is defined by many things. In retrospect, if he had been accepted to ASIJ, he would have spent a majority of his time with Americans and probably missed out on a lot of cultural learning opportunities. This year has been terrific.
Just when I think my friend list can’t get any longer, I meet new people who are just too irresistible. Take Bridget & Emily. They are part of my “spinning crowd” and we just started hanging this fall/winter. ExPats are like that. I think when you know it’s all temporary, you figure out pretty quickly it’s either clickin’ or it ain’t. Relocating is a lonely process. Sometimes it’s self-imposed and sometimes it isn’t. It’s nice to meet people who know you’re leaving and say “Screw it! let’s just enjoy the moment!” Hearing this from a woman is definitely different from a man.
SHIPS IN THE NIGHT
Just a few weeks ago, Chase started talking about a new girl at the bus stop. Her name is Mize. Evidently, the way to Chase’s heart is to tell him you like playing Minecraft. I got the feeling this girl was “different”, so being the good mom I am, I started to stalk the two of them. I followed Chase to the bus stop. I realized, the first time, it was a mutual admiration club. She is definitely checking the “like-likes” him box. This is Chase’s first crush. I thought I was going to be all jealous and bitter, but on the contrary, I’m completely enthralled with each days “bus stop drama”. After school, I ask him to give me detailed description of what happened today. Fortunately, he is happy to re-cap it all. He’s feeling quite the stud.
Watching these two, has me genuinely smiling. Soon they will have to part ways, but they are enjoying something so special. Once more, I find myself learning from Chase. He’s not ignoring her or pushing her away because he’s on his way out. He’s being present in a way that is a gift for both of them. When was the last time you had a conversation with someone and neither was hanging onto their phone waiting to be interrupted? The lunches, dinners, and coffees I’ve had over these last few weeks have been so special to me. I’ve given extra long hugs and shed a few tears. It’s hard on one hand, but that’s the nature of precious things, isn’t it?
Until next time…