One Crazy Week, and Experiences of a Lifetime

Tomorrow I am meeting one of my Japanese friends in New York City. She is the first of my Japanese friends to make the trip to the East Coast since I returned home, and so she will be the first of my Japanese friends that I will meet up with since I left Japan. I haven’t decided yet whether to spend Tuesday in NYC, as well, though if there is room for me at the guest house where she is staying (as she says there is–and for free), then I shall forfeit the bus ticket I had for that night and come back the following night on a cheaper bus. Twenty-two dollars (for the missed bus ride) is a cheap night in NYC, but I want to make sure that, in fact, I will be allowed to stay there for free. If you’ve read my blog entry from two weeks ago, you’ll know that, once again, I am overanalyzing this situation.

Why should such a small amount matter? Well, I don’t like to waste anything, and when one is trying to move out of one’s childhood home–and is not earning much money substitute teaching (and none over summer break)–one cannot afford to waste any money. It’s too bad I didn’t buy the second bus ticket at the ticket counter, though they cost a little more (but are refundable). Okay, okay, I know. What’s money versus hanging out an extra day with someone whom I haven’t seen in a year-and-a-half? I agree, but my conditioning is such that, in the present moment, I worry not so much about losing that money as wondering if I should attempt to exchange it for another ticket, despite the fact that e-tickets are “non-refundable and non-exchangeable.” My dad always says not to believe everything that you read, but apart from an emergency situation (or the time when I accidentally selected the wrong date for one of my Greyhound Bus tickets, but caught my mistake that same day), I don’t see how I could exchange it for anything less than paying full price for another ticket.

Learning to let go of things is another trait I have yet to learn. I cling to everything. People, places, pets, things. I have gotten better, as the cardboard box in my closet, containing items to throw out, attests to, but the fact that I’ll be lucky if I fill the whole box shows how far I have to go. Then again, most of my furniture (if not all of it) will be staying here when I move.

Case in point: after I went to London my junior year in college, every time I tried to relate to someone else’s experience, my sentence would always start with, “When I was in London…” Since coming back from Japan, my sentences still often start with, “When I was in Japan,” even over a year later.

Unlike my experiences in London, however, my experiences in Japan have not been replaced by American experiences memorable enough to take their place. Not that all of my experiences in London have been shaded over, but I no longer start most of my sentences with, “When I was in London,” whereas I still start many of my sentences with, “When I was in Japan,” or “When I was in Tokyo,” or “When I visited Kyoto.” People who have never lived overseas for an extended period of time will find it difficult to relate to me on the deepest of levels, since that is where these experiences lie. But then, I may have trouble relating to them for the same reason. Things that were once familiar to me now seem strange.

I do find it odd how certain people to whom I was very close in high school or college are no longer that close to me, while others to whom I was moderately close back then are closer to me now. Not that this is always the case. I do believe that this closeness changes less over time the older you are when you become or stay friends with someone, because both of you get closer to having lived through all the main experiences that define you the older you get (19th century French writers would be proud of this sentence). So, people who share experiences when younger but encounter far different experiences when older are more likely to grow further apart as they age.

In a way, it’s sad that while shared experiences can bring you closer to others, it can also drive others away, but such is life. C’est la vie. しょうがない。

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