The two faces of Japan. For that much, the same two faces are present in every country.
Deciding to leave is quite different than contemplating departure. Many people urged us to go after the March 11, 2012 quake, but we were not yet "ready" to leave. There is a time for everything, and we've been waiting for that time to come for a long while. This blog was created, perhaps in part, as a way of finding my way emotionally to that point. It has been and will continue to be a review of my experiences here, both psychologically and experientially. It has helped me take account, remember, and notice. It has helped bring me to this point in time. My husband and I are leaving Japan after nearly 23 years for certain. The tickets have already been reserved and paid for. We are going on March 29, 2012.
This decision came on the heels of a lot of personal changes including some very tragic and hard ones related to our families, but mainly it is driven by the fact that we are ready to move along to the next phase of our lives. Our deeper contemplation of the path our lives has taken and should take relates quite smoothly with Erikson's Generativity vs. Stagnation stage. In fact, without realizing it, we fell right into that age range when we started contemplating departure. Frankly speaking, we are happy in Japan. We love many things about it and in many ways, our lives here are better than they have ever been and that is part of why it is time to leave. We've hardly experienced everything there is to experience nor seen all there is to see, but from a personal growth viewpoint, this is as far as we believe being here is going to take us. Other people may find life here endlessly challenging, but we all have different goals and needs. My husband's and mine are taking us back home, finally. We could stay and be happy, but relatively stagnant in the areas that matter to us personally.
Though I'm only blogging about this now, the decision was made before this post was written. I didn't want to announce it publicly until all of the people who deserved to be told face to face had been notified. That mainly meant students and employers, but others as well. This was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do because it feels like a betrayal to leave them. Some of my students cried. I wanted to cry, too, but didn't because that would only have made it worse. All I could say was that I was sorry, and that it wasn't an easy decision nor one that I was overjoyed about. I'm ambivalent about leaving for many reasons and one of those is the relationships with the people I have here. Much as many people believe English teachers are floating garbage that should be skimmed off of the pristine beauty of Japan and thrown away, I know that I've had a great and positive impact on people's lives in ways that strangers would never believe were possible and the people I've met have had similar ones on me. A handful of Japanese people didn't want me here and let me know it. Far more wanted me here and would prefer that I not go. This is a good feeling, but it makes what we're doing all the harder.
In terms of what this means for this blog (as that is really the point of this post rather than my sentimental blathering), it really doesn't mean much at all because I'm going to finish my 1000 posts regardless of where I am. At this point, I'm having a hard time coming up with "won't miss" posts though since the decision to leave has me deeply mired in sentimentality and seeing what I will miss, but I'm sure that it'll all come along at a pace as time goes by.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you'll stay with me for the duration.