Six months. Approximately 182 days. The past two years I’ve learned that’s about how long it takes to realise you love someone. Or maybe, six months, approximately 182 days, is simply the the standard of relationships. The standard amount of time you get to spend with the people who will end up meaning the most to you.
I always ask people, how can you just accept good-bye so easily? The past couple of years the typical answer is just, “I’m used to it.”
I’m almost six months into my study abroad experience. Six months. Six long, incredibly short, roller coaster ride, tear filled, laughter filled, things I don’t remember filled months. So people are leaving. Almost exactly one year ago one of the most amazing people was preparing to leave and I remember thinking, can I handle this every six months? Can I say good-bye to people every six months? This is the life you choose when you want to experience people from around the world. Always having to part ways. Is it something I could handle?
Six months after this person left, the last of my friends studying in the States departed as well. And now here I am. I can’t imagine having only chosen to stay for six months. To me, it just always felt like these people would experience Japan with me during my entire stay. I’m always one foot in the future and one foot in the past, so living in the present is a daily struggle for me. But these past six months I have been able to look at those around me and think, “enjoy today with them”.
The awkward “let’s sit silently next to each other” moments from the beginning. The first time we were able to have serious meaningful conversations. The nights at the river. The scoldings at the dorm. The nights that suddenly became mornings. And even the secrets that we wish we could have kept secrets. The tears we cried together. The hands we held. The friends we were able to become having known virtually nothing of each other.
I’m supposed to be excited that in a few months I’ll meet new people from all over the world and grow to know them just as I have these people surrounding me. I’m sure in six more months I’ll have these same feelings about many of the people I’ll come to meet, but for now, my heart is with the people around me.
The people who stood by my side when Japan was brand new and I was nervous. The people who consistently invited me out to Shibuya, Roppongi, to experience the various Japanese culture events, and just spend quality time with.
The people who rang my bell the night of my birthday with Japan’s infamous strawberry cake. The people who answered their doors for me on the nights I couldn’t sleep. Who held me when my friend passed away. Who wiped my tears even when I would never say what’s wrong.
I can’t imagine Japan with out any of them.
I haven’t felt like I had grown at all until recently. Being able to reflect on these people I’ve spent the majority of my time with I think I’ve probably learned a lot about myself and more on accepting others. We’re all so incredibly different, but so similar as well in certain ways. Our worries, our goals. We all just want to do our best in the end. To be able to smile and say that despite anything, we did alright. We made it through.
At first I thought selfishly of my own feelings. “Why do I meet such amazing people and always they must leave me?” Recently after crying with a friend at the station I realised… we all feel it. Those of us remaining feel left. Those who are leaving feel the same. We are all sad and all wondering about the future and reflecting about these past six months. It’s not my time to cry out selfishly yet. It’s my time to support more amazing people I have met on this journey I’m supposed to call living.
Study abroad… I’ve had a few moments I’ve wanted to run away from it just as I ran away to it. “I can’t face this life anymore.” Always my mind goes there. Being in Japan I’ve had to confront the darkest of my days and see through them. I’ve had to conquer panic attacks and wipe my tears on my own. After today starts a huge hurdle for me that I was one plane ticket away from running from, but if I’m starting to realise anything, it’s to try my best to tackle my problems head on. No matter where you run, you can’t escape yourself. I learned that the first month being here, but it’s beginning to sink in now.
For this time… the last remainder of these incredible, amazing, sad, agonising, beautiful six months, I want to try and take as much as it in as possible.