Thursday, June 21, 2007


I’m an idiot.

I’ve been kicking myself for a good three months over my decision not to stay in Japan another year.

Unfortunately, it’s too late to do anything about it now. They’ve already found someone to replace me. The paperwork has been drawn up and the contract has been signed. I’m leaving in two months whether I want to or not.

It’s so unfair that I had to make the decision back in February. I couldn’t have been in a worse frame of mind. I was miserably cold and overwhelmingly homesick. I couldn’t imagine signing on for another 18 months.

As much as I loved living here, I just couldn’t seem to shake the loneliness and the isolation. Saying “no” to a second year felt right.

Looking back on it now, I think it felt “right” because it was the easy and safe choice. Deep down I wanted to stay but I chickened out. I was worried that things wouldn’t turn around. I was worried about giving up my career back home. Leaping into the great unknown was a risk I was too scared to take. So I played it safe and I lost.

About a month after I made the decision to leave, things started to get better. I was given a lot more control and responsibility over my classes. I fell in love with the new students. I woke up excited to go to work every morning.

The isolation and loneliness faded as my social life picked up. I made a few good friends. I stopped sucking at volleyball. I signed up for weekly tea ceremony classes. My Japanese improved by leaps and bounds.

It’s taken almost a year to adjust and now I have to leave just when things are starting to get comfortable.

People keep asking me when I’m going back to Canada. I hate talking about it because these conversations always leave me on the verge of tears. I don’t think anyone really knows how much I want to stay.

I haven’t been able to bring myself to tell the students I’m leaving. They’re the main reason I want to stay. Saying goodbye to them is going to kill me.

Last week, one of my favourite kids from the track team asked me if I wanted to sign up for a 5 km race with him in December. I couldn’t tell him I wouldn’t be here in December. I just couldn’t. I would have dissolved into a sobbing mess. So I told him I didn’t know.

I’m not ready to leave. I want to be a part of these kids’ lives a little longer. I want to stick around and see my favourite students grow up and graduate.

I’m dreading the thought of returning to the world of adults and politics and regressive environmental policies. It’s all so Sisyphean. I don’t have the stomach for it anymore. I’d rather be standing in front of a classroom than sitting behind a cubicle.

Although I’ll be happy to see my friends and family again, I’m worried about going back to Vancouver when my heart’s still in Japan. I’m terrified of being miserable and consumed with regret when I get back. Who’s going to want to be around me if I’m like that?

I’m trying to remind myself that I was happy in Vancouver before I left. But it feels forced. I’m not very good at positive thinking. I’m a glass half empty kind of girl. I let a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity slip through my fingers. It’s a tough thing to live with.

I’m an idiot.

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