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.
I have 5 days until I leave my college town. 10 days until I leave Michigan. 14 days until I leave the states entirely.
I remember counting several months like it was yesterday. I remember talking to my
“先輩” (upper classmates) about their experiences and joys and struggles when they went abroad for the first time. I remember absorbing it all like a little sponge just beaming because I would be in that position soon.
I keep thinking about those moments. This past year. In 5 days I officially am separated from it. I’ve spent this year sorting out and learning more about my anxiety disorder. I’ve proved that it is indeed possible to be friends with your ex. Live with them even! And most importantly, challenging myself to let others know me.
That’s been the hardest. Because it is such an empty thing. Get to know me so we can part ways. I still don’t understand such a thing. I had a thought once this year, “how many people like you can I meet?” I’ve met varies people this year. People who hide behind masks. People who do seemingly awful things, but have the biggest hearts. People who never make excuses for their actions. And people who have every excuse in the book. People who are sensitive. People that are afraid. People who simply exist to live this life to get it over with.
And though I think often… Certain people weren’t worth getting to know. Weren’t worth trusting. And in the end just proved more reason to why others aren’t worth close connections and sharing secrets with. I couldn’t have learned all I have this year with out each of them.
And those I grew up with… those people who know my past and my struggles and the small windows I’ve opened as we grew through our teen years, they have become more valuable than I ever thought possible. This small handful of ones from my so called youth… when I think of them and their lives and how still to this day, their support reaches me, I realise that if I never meet another person again that can prove to me friendship is worth something, to have these select people to remember… well, that is enough for me.
These people who some how know when to send a random message. These people who take time out their busy lives to see me. These people who think about me every day just as I think of them. The ones I’ve survived nasty fights with. The ones we could cry about our childhoods with. The ones I’ve wished upon stars with. The ones I’ve held their hair back. The ones who I could truly be myself with. The ones who never once asked me to change. The ones who really loved me for who I am. Awful faults and all. I hope one day to meet others like this. But maybe because of these people my standards are too high.
I’m not really sure what I’m saying or why I’m writing. I think a piece of me needs to say goodbye to a few things I’ve lost in the past several months. I think perhaps I just needed to clear my head and express these things in order to make room for the journey I’m about to embark on.
I have two weeks to soak in these faces I grew up with. Two weeks to express how much these friends mean to me and will always mean to me. No matter how I’m hurt or feel like friendships don’t matter, these faces prove how wrong I am.
Just because no one has proved to be as loyal as these few, that’s nothing to be sad about at all. I’m really grateful to have an unbeatable standard when it comes to friendship.
Yesterday I went against all I normally do. Typically the weekends are for locking away from the world these days. But yesterday I was invited to go to a haunted house with two girls from my class and a few of the Japanese exchange students. Normally I would never go to a haunted house. I’m easily frightened and I was worried what if I have a panic attack? But I had a very amazing time. I’m becoming happy knowing that most times when I take risks good things come from it.
Then around midnight I was invited out to a party. I mostly wanted to stay home because I didn’t really know anyone at the party very well and felt I would just sit alone and leave after ten minutes in awkwardness. But I decided to push myself again and asked the two girls from class to join me.
I had the most fun last night that I’ve had in awhile. It wasn’t awkward at all! Everyone was very nice and though I can’t be sure everyone remembers everything, I got to talk to many new people. I lived across from campus however and was far too wavy to walk home. So next thing I knew it was 5 a.m. A soccer ball rolled across the floor and I disappeared into the couch.
Don’t worry, this isn’t a scary party story. However, waking up this morning was weird because though I slept alone and didn’t make any risky choices last night, it was the first time I’ve really been out and social since Shad broke up with me. I still worry a lot about his feelings even though I don’t want to be with him now. So as I over think everything, I still felt bad for sleeping over at a boys house. But they do have a nice girl roommate so I guess it’s not that bad.^^
Today as I said I’ve just been thinking… I’ll admit I’ve had some feelings of shame just because I’m worried parties result in fake friends. My first year here as I’ve mentioned before, the friends I partied with made up rumours about me and them. I will admit to myself that I’m a playful drunk. But things like kissing/sex are not me. To be honest, I’m not really interested in those things at all for myself. But I think it’s easy to be taken the wrong way.
But, I’ll hope that these people are different. I’m trying to understand that some people just suck. It doesn’t mean they all have to. I don’t want to take every shitty person I run into too personally. And I don’t want to be scared to meet people in fear that they’ll be a shitty person. I’ve missed out on a lot I think the past couple of years thinking that way.