Feeling the strain

I don’t really know what it is, but this week has been particularly difficult in the homesickness department. Julia mentioned that she usually only writes about the events going on in her life (and Ben as well, I would wager, though Julia’s the more regular writer on their blog), but I feel like this isn’t a true account of my time in Japan unless I account for the bad as well as the good, because no experience is perfect.

However, this entry may be short (may, Ethan–it’s not one of those, “If this is short, I’d hate to see what your idea of long is!” things, I promise), as I’m at one of my elementary schools, on a laptop with a monitor that has to be no bigger than 12″ and with a really strangely-laid-out (even for a Japanese layout, which is still unfamiliar to me) keyboard.

So I’ve booked my plane tickets home–I need to call the agency back, though, because they were supposed to e-mail me my itinerary and haven’t, so I wonder if they misheard the dictation of my e-mail address over the phone. But anyway, it’s booked–I’m arriving in Atlanta the evening of June 16th (and will have departed the evening of the 16th as well–I love the International Date Line) and leaving the morning of the 24th (arriving in Osaka on the afternoon of the 25th–not so fond of the IDL there), with stopovers in Chicago both ways. I already may run into my friend Kevin from school at the airport if he ends up flying through Atlanta that night, and several groups and individuals are trying to claim chunks of my time, which just makes me so happy.

Seriously, thinking about this trip–it’s as if it’s this one huge, glowing spot on the horizon that I’m slowly making my way towards, but it isn’t like my current situation should be giving me anything to be unhappy about. Yeah, the breakroom awkwardness at my junior high is still there (and seems to have kind of become a convention, I think), and I’m fumbling through my introductory eikaiwa lessons now that we’ve resumed after a hiatus due to the town merger, but my relationships with my elementary schools are still great and I’m not letting anybody down. I’ve also begun to assume my duties as AJET webmaster (and have unofficially become the AJET graphic designer too, I think) and already have several pending projects to either assist with or handle from the ground up, as well as assisting with the general planning going on for the year.

But somehow, it just isn’t enough right now. I keep picturing all the people I’m going to go see (Hamza, Jenn, Laura, Ethan and Bela and any other GTSO people they can round up, Avery and Caroline and Nadonnia from my short web design stint just prior to coming to Japan, my former professor Carol and maybe my friend Jason and others from my major school, maybe Kevin at the airport, and hopefully more people as well; several have already told me they won’t be around this summer but really want to catch up with me when I’m back in Atlanta for winter break), and all these images of the city at its finest–I guess 9 months of separation gives it all a really rosy tint. I won’t be able to drive, since we canceled my car insurance when I came to Japan and Atlanta traffic is crazy enough that it’s idiocy to drive without insurance (some of you may remember the accident I got into on the morning of my JET interview), so that kind of puts a damper on things, because I’ve also been compiling a mental list of what songs I want to put on my “now that I’m back in Atlanta, I can sing along to these songs at the top of my lungs while cruising down I-75” playlist.

And this week, my dad and I have sort of been “at odds”…see, I’m currently suffering from Christmas Cake Syndrome (I only first heard that term when I came here, but it’s so freaking apt–I’m 24, and the big OMGWTF You’re Turning 25 Years Old And Are Still Single “deadline” is several months away), and a 5-minute phone discussion verifying my trip itinerary turned into an hourlong talk, with my dad insisting repeatedly for the better portion of 30 minutes that I consider browsing through Indian matrimonial websites and just not letting the issue drop that I NEED a boyfriend. (He even said that if I had a boyfriend, I wouldn’t spend all my time blogging–as if I write because I’m bored! I write because I want to document my experiences here for myself and my friends–and if I blog less, my parents get worried that I’m ill or something. So it seems like it’s either too much or not enough, no matter what I do…) JET is really not one of those situations that’s really conducive to starting a lasting relationship, though people have, but I can realistically see myself still being single when I leave Japan next summer. But it’s still an issue that’s always in the back of my mind, and I have to admit that I was feeling some frustration when we hung up that day.

But then the next day, my dad sent me a URL to some page on shaadi.com, one of the bigger Indian matrimonial sites, with a list of “the six Cs to a lasting relationship.” I guess my homesick-induced gloom had me waking up in a not-super-cheery mood already, so that e-mail honestly ruined my morning, and I sent him an angry e-mail asking him to please just stop. Seriously, living here and having such an apparently easy and fun job seems glamorous from the outside, but it’s far from a perfect situation. I’ve been here for 9 months, and yet today, I had a guy on a bike notice me, and his eyes went wide and his jaw dropped. And I walked into a restaurant last Friday and had every single patron turn around and stare at me openly. This stuff just wears you down after a while, no matter how immune to it you think you are. I’ve been really feeling the strain lately, and the last thing I need is for my parents to put even more pressure on me from the other side of the planet.

So…yeah. This hasn’t been the easiest of weeks. Writing about it has helped me to feel a bit better, and it’s kind of kept my mind occupied during my hourlong break between my bus arriving and this particular class starting. I should sign off because I’m off to teach kids world greetings and English-language janken (rock-paper-scissors) in five minutes. The great thing about these elementary school classes is that they totally take up all your attention, and you can give them your all and draw genuine pleasure and amusement from working with the kids, so they take your mind off your troubles, which don’t sting quite as much once you start thinking about them later, because you realize that there really are things about this job and situation that you truly enjoy. But despite that, everyone does need a break every now and then, and I think the time for mine has come.

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