This follow-up was later than promised because I needed a little more time than a week to process a semester’s worth.
It’s Friday at lunchtime so I’m at Skyline. Because of how close this place is to my dad’s work, we’ve made it practically tradition to eat with him every Friday. It’s about the only time we can have lunch as a family—especially with me and my brother off at college most of the year anyway. Basically, if my family were ever killed in our sleep, the employees of the Skyline off state road 31 would be the ones who would report us missing because we didn’t come in on Friday. Though the outside heat is intense and the humidity is only adding insult to injury, I’m looking forward to nothing more than digging into warm, greasy chili noodles. The waitress comes forward. For as long as my family has come to this restaurant, she’s worked here. I’m not surprised when she rattles off my mom and dad’s orders, but, to my happiness, the waitress squints at me and recalls my order near perfectly. This brings me a gross amount of joy, and I feel a little silly—that is until it finally sinks in: I’m home.
[background: towel my small group leader, Lis, gave me; postcard 1: Clifford’s Tower, postcard 2: Monkgate (where I entered the city centre); postcard 3: the Shambles; left top card: my railcard that got me discounts on train tickets; below the railcard: two train tickets; middle green: note of encouragement from Helen, wonderful lady from church; YorkCard: gets York residents into tourist spots for cheaper; behind that: my YSJ student ID; ticket: for the Yamamoto taiko drummers that I saw with my Japanese class and friends]
So the Brave, Little Ninja has been back in the USA for about a month now. I’m completely over jet lag and weeks deep into an internship. I’ve been fortunate to have seen most of my family already since being back. Met my cousins’ new boyfriends, seen my uncle, hugged both sets of grandparents—the whole shebang. I’ve presented my bag of souvenirs and explained their funny stories—tried to explain the silly people behind them though I’m not sure anyone can completely understand them. I’m back to driving as my primary mode of transportation (and driving my household nuts with my new love for k-pop) but other than that, everything is back to normal.
[orange: Japanese handwarmers; big paper: my “diploma” for graduating Japanese class; on top of the diploma: two paper cranes made with origami paper; matching chopsticks; green: tea bag; brown paper: note from Yuka-chan; coin: 100 yen (about 80 cents or 50 pence); package: red bean paste (tasty!)]
I’ve always considered my family my best friends. They’ve humoured me even when I go off on a story that I’ve already told or one that ends up being a “you had to have been there” kind of deal. They’ve sat through my slideshow presentation of all my pictures I’ve taken and just been there to listen. I could not have had asked for a better family.
[buisness card: Sherlock Holmes business card from the Baker Street gift shop; mini violin: with little case, also from the Baker Street gift shop; top paper: bulletin from the Sunday service I attended at Westminster; next big paper: the pamphlet for the “Japan” exhibit in the British Museum; orange and pink ticket: from the Phantom of the Opera show I saw in London; ticket below: from the Tower of London; glasses: from the official Beatles gift shop; blue card: Oyster card I used to get on the Tube in London; wooden thing: hair thingy from Chinatown in London]
Overall, I’ve had a very easy readjustment. The only reverse culture shock I’ve experienced was how light my wallet feels without being stuffed with heavy, thick coins and the fact that calling school anything but “uni” just sounds weird. That will fade with time, but the hardest readjustment has been that I’m still not use to having my YSJ friends so far away. Most of them aren’t even in York anymore—some even in countries that don’t allow facebook.
I miss them.
I found myself wondering what it would be like if I was a freshman there and the people I met there were people who would end up being my best friends for the next three years. I found myself daydreaming about what our group could have become after four more semesters of friendship—how close we would get, what sort of inside jokes would spring out of our mangled, multilingual conversations, how my knowledge of other cultures would have grown, and how many more words in other languages I would have accumulated.
I’m going to miss them. With feelings I can’t express, I’ll miss them. Normally, I’m the first to deny that anything can be indescribable because, as a writer, that’s my job: to put things into words. I often process my emotions through words—talking in circles until I finally narrow down how I feel about something—but spending time with Lucky Fish and others has taught me that words aren’t always the most accurate ways to express oneself.
Honestly, I went to study abroad thinking that I would not make many friends there—not because I wouldn’t find any but because I’m a very practical person (or is “selfish person” better word choice?). I would only be abroad for a semester so why would I hurt myself and try to form relationships with people who I would just end up leaving after a few months? And, for a little while, things seemed to go according to that—well, I can’t decide if “prediction” or “plan” is the right word. I was forming a healthy amount of casual acquaintances and hanging out with the other Taylor girls. That seemed to fulfill my requirements for social interaction. It seemed I would get by unharmed.
As you probably know, those casual acquaintances became friends and Lucky Fish, and even now I’m trying to hold it in for the sake of not being dramatic, but it seriously might take me years to get over them. It’s so frustrating to have seen how we had such obviously fledgling friendships, and that I will never see them to what they could have been, how close we could have become.
Why does God do this where he puts people in our paths for a reason, but then takes us away?
“…And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lords’ holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19
“I try to find the words to pray/I don’t always know what to say/but You’re the one that can hear my heart/even though I don’t know what Your plan is/I know You’re making beauty from these ashes/…here’s my broken hallelujah/…let me always sing hallelujah” -Broken Hallelujah by The Afters
[left paper: English flyer from the Sacre Coeur in Paris, bracelets: leather bracelets from Florence; middle paper: flyer for Notre Dame; glasses: from Florence; top card: from the Colosseum; bottom card: from the Vatican Museum; shell: from the Isle of Skye]
Well, in the States, the Brave, Little Ninja currently has an internship. Turns out I’m kinda good at copyediting. That’s good because that means I might actually be able to get a job in writing in the future. That’s just a little comforting considering I’m going to have to be searching for jobs after this year—probably even before. Speaking of this semester, it’s going to be interesting because most of my classes are for my English minor. I don’t have a single professional writing course this fall semester which is going to feel weird. I’m especially looking forward to being in the Taylor Ringers, the bell choir, again. I miss those crazy guys. Oh yeah. I’m also going to be taking beginners Chinese too. I wanted to take Korean for obvious reasons, but it seems that Taylor isn’t offering that anymore sadly. (So I may or may not be trying to teach myself. Learn ALL the languages!)
[left: my box from Capt. Jack Sparrow I got in Edinburgh; middle top: leather box from Florence; right: soapstone pencil holder from a free trade shop in York; middle bottom: soapstone box from another free trade shop in York]
Anyway, it’s going to be an interesting—my last year of school…EVER. That’s a sobering thought. I’m hoping to possibly start a k-pop dance cover group on campus—call it Lucky Fish-US. Maybe we can do an airband thing? We’ll see how brave this brave, little ninja can be, won’t we?
[Me wearing my Lucky Fish shirt that says “really” in Korean, my necklace with a Union Jack charm from one of the Lucky Fish boys]
Finally, a huge thanks to everyone who read my blog—whether you be family members who were somewhat obligated to or just random people who were expecting this to be about ninjas and were disappointed. I’m glad I was brave enough to do this, and I regret nothing. Thanks for listening.