No curve was too sharp for them and their bicycle. No puddle was deep enough to stop them. -- Friends by Helme Hein

11 June, 2011

Down to the wire

Who gave him the microphone? Matt giving a speech for James at our end-of-the-year party at school.

Just 5 more days left of our lives (at least for now) in Japan. The movers packed up our belongings on Wednesday and we are camping on the wood floors of our empty apartment with thermarest mats and sweaters under our heads as pillows. Oh, the glamour that is moving. From now until Thursday, we are having dinners with friends, cleaning out classrooms, doing laundry, watching Cirque du Soleil, buying last minute must-have Japanese items and taking one last trip to Hakone on the Romance Car (we've always wanted to do this...just never thought we would do it with a 4 month old in tow). On Thursday we fly to Chiang Mai, Thailand for 2 weeks for a friends wedding and some much needed relaxation. I'm amazed at the incredible changes our tiny family has gone through in 4 months: the birth of a baby, a major disaster, a return to Oregon for weeks in April, fears of radiation, the decision to move to Copenhagen, and then actually moving our entire lives across the world in 3 weeks flat.

James and his mini-me at a Tokyo park

There are a million things running through my head as we prepare to leave our home of 3 years under such circumstances. Japan is a place like none other I've ever been. It gets under your skin and becomes a part of your being. It didn't take us long to begin unconsciously adapting Japanese customs into our everyday lives: bowing as you say thank you, finding it rude when someone speaks loudly on the train, gesturing politely with your hand instead of pointing, or even yelling across the restaurant to get your servers attention. Like no other place, the nuances of Japanese culture inadvertently become your own.

Moegi and Woody-chan on a sunny rooftop near the Tamagawa

But mostly, it's sad to leave at a time when I've reached a point of true comfort, mobility and ease. I can communicate enough to carry a conversation with my taxi driver about his brush with fame with Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaki. I can find my way to pretty much anywhere on the train system and even make sure I get on the train car that will allow me the quickest transfer. We have trusted doctors, favorite restaurants and shops, weekly food delivery service and convenience stores near our house that fulfill all of our banking, bill paying and late-night ice cream cravings. Japan is easy in so many ways.

last day of school

But of course, it is most sad to leave such amazing people in a time of uncertainty. Maybe it's because I'm a mother now and know that we are making this world a little worse every day for the next generation, but the nuclear situation and it's subsequent destruction of food supplies, livelihoods, environments and possibly lives, makes me quite sick to my stomach. I want to stay and be supportive, but I can't risk subjecting poor little Woody's growing cells to radiation. Why should anyone have to make such a decision? And why do I feel such guilt that I have the ability to choose whether I stay or go, when I know many families at our school do not.

dinner with Kathi, Greg, Craig and Charity

The friends we've made here are extra-ordinary. Leaving here is just a bit harder than the other places we've left. Our family essentially started out here in Japan--from engagement to the birth of our little one. And throughout those milestones, our friends have supported and encouraged us. It's hard to say goodbye. But, if we've learned anything from all this moving around, it's that the good friends do stay good friends and we do see them again. That's one advantage of the world's expanding borders.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to put up any photos for a while as my camera was lost? stolen? misplaced? last week.

One Last Game

We'll be missing Yomiuri Giants games at Tokyo Dome next year. One last game to send us on our way.
Woody makes people smile. We love that.

An umbrella vending machine!

Sea Tangle for Radiation

A sign of the times in Japan, when a 7 year old student writes you a sweet letter and includes packages of Korean sea tangle "for protection from the radiation." Sea tangle turned out to be little pellets of some sort of seaweed or kelp. Tough to swallow.