Friday, September 7, 2012

Two Months

Two months ago, today, I landed in Japan.  Somehow in the blur of losing my luggage, adjusting to the new atmosphere (not to mention the new time zone) and the realization that I don't speak the native tongue at all, I made my way up to Sendai.

It some ways that feels like yesterday and in some ways, a lifetime ago.  

I have less than a month left in Japan by every count possible.  The end is in sight but I still find it hard to see beyond Japan.  I know exactly what I'm going back to.  There is research to complete - data to collect, analysis to perform, a dissertation to write.  There are classes to teach - TAing for Aircraft Structures and then English conversation.  There are family activities to attend and friends to catch up with.  Yet, all that I see is still Japan.  Japan is my home.  Japan is now.

Recently, though, I've gotten glimpses of the me that lived in America.

The other day I was walking home from the grocery store and I noticed a man on a bicycle.  I looked at his face carefully, like I do with all people here and then I jumped back in shock, "That man is an Asian!"  I looked around me and then I started laughing at my Asiadar that suddenly decided to make an appearance two months into my internship.  "You're in Asia; of course he's Asian."

A week or two ago, I went to a restaurant with the missionaries.  We ordered hamburger steaks.  When they came, someone passed me a fork and a knife.  I took them in my hands and stared at them, wondering, "This is the first time I've even seen a fork in the past few months.  Now, wait a minute, do I normally use my fork in my left hand and my knife in my right or my fork in my right hand and my knife in my left?"  Nothing really felt right.  I was still trying to figure it out when I glanced up and realized that everyone at the table was staring at me.  "Surely it hasn't been that long since you last used a fork," one of them was incredulous.  I looked back, still quite confused but doing my best at giving an explanation, I confessed, "Well, I used chopsticks at home a lot too."  

The other day I was crossing the street and for a split second, I forgot which side of the street the cars drove on. The disoriented feeling soon passed and the world righted itself again. 

I have a feeling that leaving here will not be easy.

Here's a glimpse of my week in pictures:

Hasebe-san made an appearance on a TV show on Tuesday. 
I found some awesome Pocky that I think my sisters would love.  One, it's Pandas.  Two, it's cookies and cream.  It was a good purchase and I enjoyed every bite of it. 
 Even the inside packaging was adorable. 

The weather has been absolutely beautiful this week.  I couldn't resist taking a picture of the blue sky over the engineering complex. 
 Nor could I resist taking pictures of the way the sunset lit up the hallway in my lab.  Interestingly, I got caught by two people in my lab taking pictures.  They both look very concerned to see me crouching in a corner in the hallway until I told them what I was doing and then they laughed. 

Two sister missionaries that I love are being transferred to open a new area in Ishinomaki.  I am very excited to hear about this opening but very sad to see them go.  Sister Fukuda is my fellow Japanese soccer and High School Musical fan.  
 I just met Sister Shuta last week but she is so wonderful.  And yes, Elder Hatcher is photobombing our picture.  Erg, elders...

My boys!! I got to watch them play live on TV.  Great header by Mike Havenaar that won us the game.  It was a relief to finally get to watch them play.  I loved every minute of it.  A few funny moments: When Honda was trying to set up for a free kick, he kept yelling, "Mako!  Mako!  Mako!" to get him to move.  Another great moment was after Havenaar's header - his smile was one of delight and relief.  And then, after the game, Maya Yoshida who had played the entire game came off the field and everyone was giving each other high fives.  Yoshida made a move as though he was going to wrap Hasebe in a big sweaty hug and Hasebe who had changed out of his own sweaty jersey into clean clothes jumped back and motioned like, "If you get sweat on my nice clean shirt...."  Then, they both laughed.   

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