I have a love/hate relationship with Japan. It's the first place I really lived as an adult, and I spent a good chunk of my twenties there. So, it feels like my grown up place, in some ways, which is strange. I moved there when I was 21, and then came back to the states at 22. Then, at 24, I moved there again, and stayed until I was 27. A lot of things I associate with Japan are simply aspects of living in large cities, having a job, or being an adult.
Because of this, I talk about Japan a good bit. I've noticed that this is pretty evenly divided between complaining about it and missing it. I'm not sure why that is; I don't do that with other interests in my life. I think a part of my problem with Japan is that I didn't choose to get involved with it. It was an arranged marriage between Jaime and Japan. She decided to go, and I went along. Because... well, I didn't want to be without Jaime. It started a quest to understand the country, and I think that is the driving force behind my continued interest. I want to really understand the place.
Spending my formative years there also gave me no chance to develop another career path. Basically, speaking Japanese is my only skill. Speaking Japanese and putting up with insulting and borderline racist questions from my students was my job for a few years. I'm not sure what else I could ever do. As strange and possibly depressing as it sounds, it was a job I actually liked. I hated it some days, sure. But working with the kids was great, and they were so happy to be there learning English from me, for the most part. I didn't really, wholly love working in Japan, but it was a job I did that fit in with my real life fairly well. I could spend my time doing what I liked, traveling and drinking tea. It would now have the added bonus of giving me a job that paid okay while Jaime could stay home with the children. I would miss spending my day with them, certainly, but it would do wonders for Jaime. Although J is pretty industrious and ambitious for that much free time. She might be dictator for life of Japan in a few years time. I'd better keep her busy.
I never got into the things about Japan that brought most people there. I dislike Anime greatly, and Manga is awful. I have a wife, and I'm thankful every day for her. I really couldn't deal with a Japanese wife. I like the kaiju films, but honestly they are more popular here than in Japan now, I barely heard of them when I lived there. I don't like video games. I'm not really into electronics or Japanese cars... I like Buddhism, and tea. But more people are into Godzilla than Buddha these days, and as interesting as they are culturally, they aren't my spiritual path. (Buddhism or Godzilla, that is. Tea may still be...)
I wish I could set aside my interest, or come to terms with it. I'm worried that I'm going to drag myself back to Japan without fully understanding why. I'm okay with going back, or not going back: I just need to have a clear head when I make the choice. I don't know if I was totally clear-headed when I decided to take the job in Imabari. I was having fun in Morgantown, but I felt like my life was just coasting along. I didn't want to be 35 and doing the same things I had done at 20. I feel a little like that now, but there is a difference. I'm not concerned I'll be doing the same things at 45 that I'm doing at 32, I'm concerned that I'm coasting along and not allowing myself to grow. I know that a change of location isn't going to affect that, of course. But what about a change of location draws me?
Maybe I'll let Jaime drag me to Sweden. Then I get a change of location and a new country. One without subway fondlers and big eyed prepubescents with guns! Which is a good thing.
See this entire post wasn't about Japan. Some was for Sweden. Dear Sweden: Please get down on your bony European knees and thank the Lord that you aren't Japan. (Thank you, MST3K version of Prince in Space. You have healed my pain over all things Japanese better than years of intense therapy.)