Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sayonara's and looking back

Saying goodbye to friends is a regular occurrence when you live abroad- international friends come and go all the time, and my time in Japan was a succession of hello's and goodbye's. I somehow got used to it, and even though each goodbye is sad, some are more difficult than others. A few days ago, my friend Sonia left Japan, and it made me especially sad as I met her on my very first day in Japan, when training in Nagoya nearly five years ago.

My original training group was composed of seven people, and we became very close friends over the course of that intense two-week training. Even though all of us were dispatched to different locations all over Japan, we would text and chat frequently and meet up during holidays. Although we met for such a brief period of time, bonds were strong and I will never forget that time of my life. Most of them left Japan after the first year or two, and are now living all over the world, between Canada, the UK and Australia. Up until yesterday, only Sonia and I remained from that group, and now she left. 

We never lived close to one another during that whole time, but we were constantly in touch and tried to meet during holidays. I especially remember one lonely Christmas in Osaka, when she came over and we spent a Japanese Christmas eating McDonald's chicken nuggets, drinking milk tea and watching Love Actually. 

It made me look back on my time in Japan, and so much happened in those years. We spent hours chatting and reminiscing about those first few weeks in Japan, which are some of my best memories of Japan. Everything had a magical feel back then, everything was so new and exciting, and I vividly remember how ecstatic I felt. It makes me sad to know I'll never experience this again, at least not in Japan. I'll miss her so much, and I'll always feel nostalgic looking back on those times. Yet, I have a pretty good feeling she'll be back soon. 

It's amazing how everyone moved away from Japan, and here I am. I'm doing something completely different from when I first came, and I had no idea things would unfold like they did. What started out as an extended vacation and stint in the rice fields turned out into daily commuting in crowded Tokyo, a job in an office, and realness. So much happened in those four years (good and bad, but mostly AMAZING!), I think I need a holiday to just recover from those changes.

Those first few Nagoya weeks circa 2009 were pretty wild

Five years later, we cleaned up pretty good


Nina said...

This post seemed definitely bittersweet reading it. I can relate to the goodbyes since I am also leaving Japan and am conflicted about doing so. But reading your post made me feel better for some reason. Thanks for sharing.

Johanna said...

How nice it sounds, your close bonds and of course sad that she's leaving.. Btw, I love how you write about Japan and describe everything so vividly.

Anonymous said...

I remember this feeling when I was leaving Seoul, then Tokyo. Living abroad brings friendships closer and often they feel more intense, probably because of the inflicted isolation that comes with living in a foreign country. I only stayed for 2.5 years total but 5 years is a lot! How do you feel as people come and go? It's sad but maybe it's nice to have so many international friends. New people can give you a fresh, new energy too > <. Anyway, I really enjoy reading your blog! Keep it up<3

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