Let me first start by saying it truly is a miracle that I was ready to go, but also admit that by ready to go I only include having my bags packed. The day I left for Seattle I was in no shape ready to leave, and despite having a couple of days still in America to sort things out before my trip, I really squandered any opportunities to set my life in order. In reality, though, I knew exactly how I would do things and feel (or hope at least) that any consequences will be trivial. Mainly, this first month in Japan may be a bit of an issue, but it’s nothing that my time spent in New York (and in some ways Northfield) didn’t prepare me to handle.
But hey, I made the plane at 6:50 in the morning, made it soundly through the three hour flight, and — while dragging two fifty pound suitcases, lugging another 40 pound duffel bag, and wearing my backpack — made it through downtown Seattle to find my way at my former college roommate, teammate, friend, and all around life-saver’s front door. When I made it back he was still in school, and so I had nothing to do but completely crash and take a nap until he came back from lab.
We went out that night for dinner and drinks, explore some of the more original parts of Seattle. It’s pretty strange for me to look back and think that those would be the most recent American memories I’d have to compare to the left I’m expecting, but on a whole I’d say the arcade/bar/concert venue we drifted into summed up all the good parts of young city life. We didn’t stay out too late that night because the next morning I had pre-departure something or other for my trip. I woke up fairly early, and after breakfast, moped around, dressing in business attire including a new sport coat bought specifically and necessarily for this trip. After too many times of checking my watch, and missing a bus stop or two, I made it to the consulate of Japan’s residence.
It was pretty unsettling the first time seeing everyone sitting in the basement and still a bit looking back on it. Like, here were 64 people about to embark to Japan to teach that I had no clue about. We shared so many similarities and were all too different beneath the surface. Most of all, past the following two day that we’d be travelling together, there was a strong chance that I would never see any of them again. It’s a haunting feeling that definitely shaped that way I behaved with most people this past week, and one that I’m finally moving out of.
The night it was decided that John and I would attempt to make one of the most American dinners possible for my last meal stateside. After a quick run along the river we decided on Mac & Cheese (a Midwestern delicacy) and while I packed and repacked my things John got the ingredients. I must admit right now that I have never seen someone more proficient in the kitchen than John and without any sense of a recipe he always makes the perfect meal. I think he gets it from his dad who once cooked traditional paella and fresh crab for me back to back.
Anyway, we went out a bit late that night and ran into Stina Nesbit of all people who ended up being fantastic and buying a lot of our drinks — exactly what you want when it comes to a last night out. By the time it came to getting to the airport I had just the right amount of fatigue to help me sleep the ten hour plane ride off, but enough energy to keep me from having a very destructive hangover.
The airport was packed, but we got through security pretty easily. Once I got on the plane I almost instantly pulled on my eye-shades and plugged into a podcast, and apart from eating lunch, I slept for a good five hours. Two movies and a couple TV shows later, lo and behold we landed in Japan. From there it was another two hours by bus, but finally we arrived at the hotel. Five star, amazing and what not, right in the heart of Shinjuku. I went out with a guy named Thomas who’d actually probably become one of the few that I’ll see again, and after a very awkward stint trying to order ramen and find a bar we had what could only be describes for foreigners in our situation as a completely successful night. On a whole the day was definitely exhaustive, but how naive was I to think that the most difficult of the trip was finally behind me.