On Being Done
Tuesday was my last day as a teacher at the International Secondary School. Last week my son finished grade 7 and my daughter finished grade 4. My writer’s brain searches for meaning in everything, so I can’t help but wonder what it all means – starting, finishing, seasons, changes – all of it. But now, after two days of processing, I don’t think it means all that much.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are still milestones to mark, boxes to tick off, and occasions to note and celebrate, but maybe certain things do not have to be dwelled upon ad nauseum. There are millions of books, articles, blog posts and poems written about startings and endings, and everything in between, but maybe it’s okay to just acknowledge the change and simply move on.
I’m saying this because we, as a society, have become fixated on these ideas. Our kindergarteners graduate, our fifth graders graduate and our eighth graders graduate. There is pomp and presents at every turn. Maybe sometimes we have to just relax and move through things quietly. Maybe sometimes we can stop and reflect quietly without a ticker-tape parade.
In Tokyo the expat community is contracting severely. Banks are moving operations to other countries, as are various large firms, so many foreigners are moving not home, but to another place in order to keep their jobs. So this year, not only is the year ending for the international schools, but with so many people moving, things will look very different when school re-opens in the fall. Those of us staying are mourning the loss of their friends to whom we have been close and secretly wondering if they know something we don’t know. But I don’t want to make a big deal out of it. I want to let it all slide by me. There’s nothing I can do about it, so I am avoiding the bigger parties and concentrating on spending one-on-one time with my friends who are leaving. Normally I feel pretty excited at this time of year as I ready myself and the kids to take our long summer holiday in the U.S. But this year, I just want to quietly mark and pass the time. I want to wish my friends well in their new lives, and prepare to move forward with my own.
There is something to be said for simple, quiet reflection. Celebration and the special marking of the passage of time are all good in their place, but this year, I’m all about it the quiet reflection.
Aimee, are you still in Japan? Let me begin by saying, my daughter is leaving Friday Sep 7th to study abroad for a year. I am so nervous. I have not expressed this to my daughter but reading your blog makes me feel a bit more comfortable with the idea. She will be living in Edogawa and going to school at the University of Tokyo Shibuya.
I have a quick question: I would like to send my daughter items, housewares (blankets, towels and etc). Is there a department store that I can order from here in the US and it could be delivered to her? I thought there was a Walmart in Tokyo am I mistaken?
Thanks for your help.
I am still here; but I took a brief break from blogging. I’m back at it now that the school year has started again. What an exciting experience for your daughter. Tokyo and indeed Japan are strange and wonderful. There are so many things she can do and try here in relative safety. My 10 and 13-year-old kids routinely walk around alone. My 10-year old took the train by herself this past weekend for the first time. As far as ordering goes, I’m not that sure. There is not a Walmart here, unfortunately. I know Lands End delivers here, and so do a few other American chains. I often go to a website called “expat express” and delivery is available from a lot of different places – the company gathers your order, charges a handling fee, and sends the stuff in one shipment. You might try that. Please let me know if you have further questions.
Thank you so much for the website. It helps.
Trying to cut the apron strings 🙂