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: