Hello everyone, this is a massively long overdue group email/blog entry. Sincere apologies if I’ve been vague, detached, or simply unavailable. As of about half an hour ago, I am no longer working, I have absolutely no ties to Japan (except…) and I am now entering the chaotic pre-departure, frenetic, mad rush that will last until Tuesday night until I’m on my plane.
Most of you have heard bits and pieces of the following but perhaps not the composite so here we go.
I got back to Japan in early March, the day after my grandmother was hospitalized. She had lung cancer for several years. March and April were incredibly challenging for me as I went to see her in the hospital as much as I could – though not as much as I would have liked, given the nature of my job where I am away for days at a time – I was steadily “falling apart” and really panicky. A number of reasons for this panic, an obvious one being that my grandmother, who I was lucky to be so close with, both physically and emotionally, was leaving this earth. Another one being that since I had moved to Japan to be near her and my grandfather, I found myself facing the reality that I had absolutely no reason to stay in Japan anymore.
I know that in previous group email(s) I mentioned I would leave Japan to travel in July 2007, and it’s funny how everything has just sort of fallen into place.
At the end of April, just when I really thought I couldn't take it anymore, my indescribably wonderful buddy Keith came over from Dublin (thank you thank you thank you). We spent two weeks traipsing around Japan, including Tokyo to see my grandmother in the last days, and he was with me when I found out that she had passed away on May 1st. It’s funny how as drawn out as an event like this is, and how long you have to prepare for it, you’re not prepared – at least I wasn't. So, needless to say, May was tough. I’ve written a lot about her and me with her and all sorts of things I’ve learned over the past months, but I think a lot of them are just for me to see, at least for now.
Around this time I started to rethink all the possible travel scenarios I had going through my head and after countless revisions, deletions, false starts, frustration and over-excitement, I’ve come up with a plan. At least for the next several months – after that, my goodness there’s so many possibilities I cant even begin to come up with anything. The plan is…
3 July – fly Osaka to Brisbane
11 July – fly Brisbane to Melbourne, during the next 3 weeks several days in Deniliquin, a night in Echuca, then the rest just chilling and experiencing Melbourne as well as a trip to Wilson’s Promontory, Philip Island, and hopefully Great Ocean Road.
2 August – fly Melbourne to Sydney. Blue Mountains, Warrumbungles, Woollongong
17 August – fly Sydney to Los Angeles
The U.S. bit is still unclear as there are a number of factors involved such as peoples schedules etc. But I’d guess between 2 and 3 weeks in LA, several days in Indiana to see my sister, perhaps a quick visit to Colorado, then the rest based in D.C. but a visit to NYC and Richmond where Blaine is…in any case, my flight out of the U.S. is:
1 October – fly Washington, D.C. to Cancun to Havana, Cuba
All October in Cuba – need I say more? I CANNOT wait!!! ;) If all goes as planned Molly will come for at least 2 weeks yay yay yay!
30 October – fly Havana to Cancun to Toluca, bus to Morelia
for the last 2 days of October and all of November, I’ll be in Mexico – from Morelia (Patzcuaro, Janitzio, etc) for Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead – where Halloween as it’s known in the U.S. came from…) I’ll do a big loop (I think) – chunk of time in DF as I really want to check out the art scene in Mexico City, Guanajuato, Oaxaca, Cuernavaca, Puebla, who knows, I want to see everything in Mexico except Cancun…
In December I’ll work my way from Mexico through to Costa Rica (passing Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua etc) to meet my sister in San Jose on Xmas Day.
In January, I’ll maybe stick around for some diving in Costa Rica, but within the first couple weeks of the month I expect to be in Buenos Aires – home for the several months following that, I hope! (though I suspect I’ll end up in Brasil for Carnaval and various other such excursions…)
I have tons of ideas brewing for what comes after that but for now they’ll stay swirling about in my head – lots will change for me I’m sure over the next several months.
So, as always, if you’re in the places I’m visiting and can meet up, let me know – and if you’re not and want to be , also let me know.
I’m going to try and start writing, perhaps short pieces for travel magazines etc (I am ridiculous with my procrastination on this, I know) – but we’ll see how it goes.
It’s a very strange feeling to be leaving Japan after spending much of the past year and a half here. I feel like I’ve learned an immense amount about myself, my upbringing, why I think and feel the way I do, and why I never felt I fit in in the US and perhaps even more so why I never felt I fit in in Japan. It’s a strange thing that will probably take me the next year or two to fully process but it’s a good feeling. Most importantly, I am leaving with a sense of extreme gratitude for having had, and taken, the opportunity to come to this crazy country and spend time with my grandparents in their old age, with my grandmother whose presence I feel even more strongly now that she has left the prison of her body as it deteriorated and I can keep her with me everywhere I am. It hurts me a lot (this is the best I can do with words at the moment) that I am now having to leave my grandfather in order to pursue the things I wish, but I know that it’s time for me to start creating my own path, and I hope that despite the physical distance that will very shortly be placed between us, there will be no reflection of that in our spiritual connection.
For now, deep breaths getting ready for all that’s ahead – thanks for reading!