Friday, February 18, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Today I am saying goodbye to my home in Japan.  I will be leaving a place that is currently the only home my kids can remember.  I started out with a 4 month old, a 20 month old, and a 3 year old.  I am leaving with a 7 1/2 year old, 6 year old, 4 1/2 year old, 3 year old, and one on the way in 6 weeks.  It is hard to believe how quickly time has flown by and how much my life has changed as a result of living here.  My family and I will never be the same again.  The Japanese people and their culture have taught me a lot about living and respect.

I am getting on the plane today with a one way ticket.  It is hard to think I might never come back or to think I might never do certain things that I've grown accustomed to.  I will be starting a new life today, but I will start it with memories and lessons I have learned from the Japanese people.  I am going to use less stuff, be more helpful, care about my appearance, smile more, be more respectful, and the list goes on.

Over the past few weeks, I have not had much time to be sad about leaving because I've been busy preparing my house for the packers and trying to get rid of stuff we don't use or want anymore. As I get in the taxi and leave my house for the last time, I know my heart will break.  It will be weird to wave good bye to all my things for the next few months and my husband for the next few weeks, and possibly some friends forever.  One of the downsides of living abroad is it's never permanent.  You see people come and go all the time.

Recently, while cleaning out my pantry, I found the phone list from when I first moved into my neighborhood.  There were over 40 names on the list.  Now, as I compared it to today's current list, there were only 4 names that were the same, one being ours.  So, three families outlasted us of 40, that's how many friends I've waved goodbye to over the years (and that doesn't include the ones that came and went in between). This is a hard part of living abroad, you get close to your neighbors, sometimes you are all you have, and then you have to say goodbye and it's not just to move to the next town, it's another country, like Africa, Australia, England, America, or China. I often wondered how it felt to leave, knowing you may never come back.  I can tell you right now it feels surreal and I don't think it's as hard for me because I didn't watch the packers put my house in boxes and drive them down the hill. I am leaving a full house and my husband will take on the job of overseeing the packing.

With all the heartache and stress of leaving your home country to temporarily live in a new one, and then leaving that country once again to go back to your home again (sometimes even a different city or state, as is the case for us), living abroad was probably the best experience of my life.  I know for my children it is a memory they will always treasure and I will be sure to never let them forget.  I thank my husband for taking us here, even though I wasn't sure of it at all.  I am hopeful for everyone I know that they will have the unique opportunity to live in another country and experience another culture.

As I wave goodbye in the taxi today, I want all my friends to know you will be missed and I am thankful for each and every one of you.  It is my friends and neighbors that have gotten me through this hectic time.  For a week straight, I had friends at my door, willing to help pack and clean up- without you, I'd have been up all night last night.  I want the Japanese people to know that I am thankful for their amazing customer service and help surviving the past few years.  I will be way more helpful to lost looking foreigners after I move home.  Sayonara.

Here is a picture from our first week in Japan:

Here is one from our last month:
Arigato Gozaimashita!


  1. Your post brought tears to my eyes. I always tell people Don't say goodbye, but rather until next time. However in the expat world, sometimes all we can say is goodbye.

    Safe travels back and good luck over the next few weeks. I am sure our paths will cross again. The Caterpillar world is much smaller than I ever thought. Until then, keep blogging and FBing. I love reading about your life and ideas.

    Ja mata!

  2. I just stumbled upon your blog this evening when I was doing a search for images of Dokin-chan. I have only read two of your posts so far but I thoroughly enjoyed them. I also live in Japan. We have been here 2.5 years and while it is extremely different than where I am from, there are many things I greatly admire and appreciate about the Japanese people, their culture and their traditions. It has given me a new insight into my own country and for that, I will always be grateful. Best of luck with your relocation and the birth of your baby.

  3. Ugh, this is where I am right now! Just came back in January this year (with almost two year old daughter) but it's been so hard since then. :( I know it's been a while for you now; does it get easier? I'm hoping so but I am sure missing Japan right now...

    I also couldn't find your contact info, so I hope you don't mind me posting this here...

    My name is Ashley Thompson and I'm working again with Andrea Martins (creator of and their blog directory that you listed on.

    Andrea and I are passionately trying to get word out about Nihongo Master, (a new startup trying to teach Japanese in a much more fun way than ever before--via social collaboration and gamification--which I think are nothing like most of the tools I've tried out there to learn Japanese.

    Is there any way you might consider taking a look at the site and/or trying it out, and blogging about it if you think it's a good idea? Any help or ideas you could offer would be incredibly appreciated.

    Thank you in advance!