Looking Through A New Window

I don’t know why I thought I would be on the same side of the hotel as last time. But when I opened the curtains after our 24+hour journey, I gasped. It was totally different. And the sadness that permeated every cell in my body grew. Even at the time, I told myself I was being illogical. Our expectations impact our experiences. I should have been relieved and grateful to have a bed. How bratty to look out the window and be disappointed by the view.

 

Speaking of expectations.. For some reason, they want us to drive here. I don’t know why this is. They should be terrified to put us behind the wheel. Not only can we not read the language, the road signs are completely different, but the Japanese drive on the other side. {Notice I didn’t say wrong side.} Any reasonable person shouldn’t want us to drive, much less encourage it. Encourage me. But there she was, Amy, our new relo person all smiles holding out a key fob. The look on Rich’s face was priceless. It was a mixture of terror and considering. She actually looked surprised that I said, uh no thank you, please drive.

 

Take a minute and ask yourself “What are my expectations?” You might be surprised that you have any. I think because everywhere I turn things are so different that my expectations are more erroneous which makes them more apparent. Our first day here was very efficient and enjoyable. One, because Rich had worked hard like a farmer at harvest-dutifully and feverishly gathering all the documents we “might” need. Also, Amy, was very excited to help us. She had many questions for us. She had a folder that she would write notes in. With each stop, she prodded us for what we want or need to get settled. She is excited to find me cooking lessons, us language lessons, the library, the cathedral, and good places to eat. I had casually mentioned that we needed a poster of the Japanese scripts-hirigana and katakana. When we went to the mall to get me a phone we ended up at three different places looking for such. We ended up in a Toys R Us in the early childhood section. Yep, that’s where we are as language learners. My expectation was that the day would be awkward and difficult. It turned out to be the exact opposite.

 

Thirty plus years ago I was here all by myself. My family and I communicated almost solely by snail mail. I was the only foreigner in my town. Consequently, my experience had a component of isolation. I now realize that it was this expectation of isolation that made saying goodbye so formidable. Technology has changed all that. The first night we got here we realized we could Facetime home and check in with Jack. He had stood at the security gate and watched his mother go through weeping the entire time. I wanted to replace that memory with our “Genki desu ka?” And we did. Today we looked at our watches and realized Bootcamp was starting so we checked in with them. It feels so good to see and hear our lovely family and friends. I know one reason I can continue to try to speak Japanese, venture to unknown destinations, try to read the billboards is because I don’t feel isolated. I’m not doing this alone. There are many foreigners here in Hiroshima. Although we don’t interact, the mere sight of them is comforting.

 

As I look out my window, I realize the view has changed. Instead of facing head on, I am looking out at an angle. The view is spectacular. The city creeps up into the lush green hills like fingers of a hand. The sky is clear. I can hear the train, its rhythm becoming a soon to be comforting sound. Rich has had a nap and is finding out where an Octoberfest is being held. We are told we can’t miss it. There will lederhosen. There will be good beer. There will be fun. I am trying not to have any expectations.View out window

7 thoughts on “Looking Through A New Window

  1. Angela,
    I was just reading about Bruce Lee (of all people!) and the advice his only instructor, Yip Man, gave him: “preserve yourself by following the natural bends of things and don’t interfere. Remember never to assert yourself against nature; never be in frontal opposition to any problems, but control it by swinging with it. ” Those are lessons I relearn every day. It sounds like you are “swinging with it!”
    All of my best wishes.
    Stephanie

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  2. I am going to look forward to your entries! I love your writing style, and I am so excited to see where this adventure takes you! Hugs!!

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  3. Normally, to me travel writing feels so—what’s the word I am looking for here?–painful. Yes, painful and egocentric and boring and something that might be better left for the inner-musings of a journal entry. And yeah, I realize that’s pretty aggressive, but travel writing often feels like a barrier to me– one that is invisible but thousands of miles wide–rather than a means to connect. It is an easy trap to fall into and one that I certainly did when trying my pen at it. However, your prose feels honest and reflective and, most importantly, inviting. It makes me feel like we are chatting once again in your backyard over a Payette or three after a wonderful meal. It is simultaneously comforting and elegant, a lot like you. I know you can’t crank out pieces like this every day, but, dammit, I sure wish you could.

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  4. Thank you for these entries, Angela. It will be so fun to follow you on your big adventure! I especially loved the imagery you used of the city appearing “like the fingers of a hand”. Keep filling our heads with beautiful pictures! XO Maria

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