Saying Goodbye Is Harder The Second Time

November 24th, 2007

Some friends from high school came to visit recently.  It was the first time I’d seen them in over a decade.

When I first came to Japan, I had no idea how long it would be.  For all I knew, I’d stay a year or two, and then move back to the US, living somewhere on the West coast where my Japanese would be usable.  So when I said goodbye then, it didn’t feel permanent.

However, now I’ve been here a decade.  I’ve married and bought a house with a 35 year mortgage.

Of course, that means a certain amount of sadness, living away from my family, but we meet up twice a year, so it’s not really a permanent goodbye.

But when my friends, who have no particular vested interest in Japan, visited, it was a lot sadder.  They came to Japan to satisfy their curiosity.  At best, they’ll come again when they’re 70, and tell people “I came here to Tokio once before, back in the 00’s.  Things were a lot different then, with trains and buses instead of transporters.  And people still hung out in Shibuya, back before the big quake destroyed the Western half of Tokio.”  But odds are higher they’ll never come back to Japan.  So this time, saying goodbye had a really permanent, depressing feeling.  I’ll probably never see them alive again.

I felt kinda bad crying in front of my son on the train.  He’s too young to understand why dad was crying, so he just looked at me awkwardly, and, on my wife’s prompting, patted my head.

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