Rain has settled over Shimada, engulfing us in a permanent dusk. The days all having the same dim sky creates a sort of strange monotony in life as the hardly changing light blends one day into the next. At least once a day I am asked if I still ride my bike to school as the rain can fall so quickly a permanent half an inch of water flows across the ground. Sometimes this question is asked while I am dripping water onto the floor, and I have to fight myself to not give a horribly sarcastic reply. There is no point in getting ready in the morning before my swim to work. I have learned to bring my work clothes with me in a carefully sealed bag so that when I arrive I can put on the dry clothes and do my makeup for the day.
Truthfully the rain has only been terrible a few days in the last two weeks. When it isn’t pouring, the threat of severe rain is still an ever-present concern. Nothing dries anymore. I have accepted that my world is permanently damp.
Saturday was a rare patch of sun in the middle of two weeks of storm. It was wonderful. I did my laundry and opened my windows to the gorgeous breeze. The wind now has a hint of fall in it. It’s just a touch of a chill, but it gives me hope.
I miss the sun. I miss being outside and feeling the wind.
I don’t miss the summer heat.
The fall term began last week on a particularly humid day. The air was so heavy it was difficult to move. I think it was an apt metaphor for the start of my teaching career here. I feel afraid to move. There are so many things I want to accomplish in my time here, however limited that time may or may not be, and yet still I am hampered by fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of being the unknown and unknowable all fill the air in my work life.
More than anything I am afraid of my fear. I am afraid to let my fear become so limiting that I get stuck, drowning in the river of my own anxieties.
And yet even in the monotony of rain and dim light, time keeps moving forward. I keep moving forward and learning more and more each day. I think that the only way to combat this fear is to throw myself into making a life here.
Some days, like Saturday, bring lightness and air into my life. The good moments illuminate my life and pull me forward. Nights spent with friends and successful conversations in Japanese bring me such joy that I forget my fear, and the more that I forget my fear the stronger I become.
This weekend I went to the 7/11 to buy some lunch because, after all of my cleaning, I didn’t feel like cooking. When I was leaving, the cute guy who works at the 7/11 smiled at me, and I was caught so off guard that I walked into a table and bruised my leg. While embarrassing, this moment also brings a certain sense of normalcy to my life. Sometimes I am awkward and clumsy, and that hasn’t changed. At that moment I was simply living my life. I may never go back to that 7/11 again, but the experience has grounded me more in my life here.
Even through my fear, I am happy here. There has not been a single moment when I wished that I was not here, doing exactly what I am doing. This experience will be what I make of it, and I am committed to making it a good one.
And besides, Netflix is now available in Japan so how could I not feel at home?