Friday, April 7, 2006

Now I Understand

I'm on my way out of the house to enjoy the sakura, but I wanted to post an update.

I'm still looking for a job. The process is frustrating, and it's hard to not get discouraged. I've had a few opportunities come my way, but I'm trying to be selective so I don't end up in another situation where I am always trying to make the best of a craptastic job. I have a few great mentors helping me, and I check in with one of them about once a week. Thank Buddha for supportive people.

I think I've come to peace with eventually leaving Japan (so the hundreds of hours of mental processing has paid off!) As I've shared, I've been spending a lot of time with my little friends lately, and because of that, my Japanese has improved. The benefit to spending time with kids who can't speak English is that when I get stuck on a word or can't understand anything that they're saying, they don't resort to their own English knowledge or to an electronic dictionary to help like my adult friends do. The kids just get frustrated with me and then start yelling the phrase over and over, louder every time. They flap their arms, and ask each other why I don't understand, and sometimes even take my face in their hands to try to force the message into my head. And I eventually get an idea of what they're saying. It really is helping.

But through that process I've gained a small window into how great it would be to really know the language, and how isolated I actually am because I don't. I've decided that if I ever learn Japanese fluently and have the opportunity to live here again, I would do it. I would trade all that I love about the States for all that I love about Japan, I really think I would. But I'm not there yet, and ultimately it would always be unsatisfying at some level to stay here without a significant command of the language.

So I'm not leaving yet, and I don't know when I will be, but I think my brain and my heart are slowly catching up with the transition that is to come. It's a relief.

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