So I’ve been a complete wreck for something like 2 months now and haven’t posted at all. Mea culpa. Here’s the lowdown.

Golden week, back in April-ish. This is a week of holidays during which Amy, Yukiko, Kana, and I all went down to Okinawa. Basically, I got to spend time with Kana for about a week, which was lovely and heartbreaking. She’s an incredibly sweet woman, whom, for reasons unknown to me, I can’t see myself being with. We broke up, since we wouldn’t be able to meet up again before I leave, and… it was on good, mutual terms.

Problem being, it set the mind a-spinning. My plans for the future are incredibly nomadic. I want to see the world, and I don’t plan on settling anywhere for any extended period of time if I can avoid it. So even if I do find someone good to be with… I can’t. My life is just too chaotic. I know I choose that, and it’s important to me, but the drawback is really hitting me hard.

Anywho, many other things have happened, but… most of them were just a prelude to today, my last day. Over the past weeks, I have steadily been saying goodbye to each of my schools, and it’s gotten progressively harder. I’ll take a picture later when I’m home, but my students gave me a metric assload of stuff as goodbye presents. Seriously, things kids and teachers gave me:

  • Five bouquets of flowers
  • Three mugs
  • A set of chopsticks and whatnot for my family
  • A windchime
  • A $300 crystal paperweight
  • A yukata
  • Several bags worth of origami (probably 1000 cranes or so)
  • Handwritten essays thanking me for teaching them and begging me not to leave (around 700)
  • Picture albums
  • Cards
  • Pictures they drew
  • Rulers
  • Pencils
  • Their favorite toys
  • Bits of string
  • Flowers they found on the ground
  • 1 yen coins (less than a penny)
  • …anything they possibly could

It was heartbreaking. Kids were literally dogpiling me to make sure I couldn’t leave the school.

Several classes sang me songs to say goodbye. One class actually made their own, practiced it, and gave me the lyric sheet.

I cried a lot.

Then, today, I had to give a goodbye speech in front of my main school, my junior high, the one where I am really close to a lot of my students. Directly before that, one of my favorite kids, Michiru, read a speech she’d written for me. Michiru and I had a fun relationship. She was one of the few kids who had a wicked sense of humor, so I could say stuff like “What’s this annoying pest doing here?” to her and she’d respond, “Showing my friend that there is a teacher here with the face of a monster. Oh look, it’s you!” We’d insult each other back and forth all the time. It was great. 

Anywho, Michiru’s speech. She gets up there, and I make disgusted faces at her, as usual, and she laughs, but then puts her head down and read, and starts cracking up a bit, like she’s not going to make it all the way through. And she tells me how she’d hated English before she met me, and that now, she’s started to think about majoring in it, going abroad, maybe becoming an English teacher. And when she ended, she said, in a nigh-perfect accent, with a lot of real emotion to her voice, “Thank you for everything.” Then the two students next to her handed me a bouquet of flowers, and a stack of messages from everyone in the school saying goodbye to me, and they both said “Thank you,” and their voice, their inflection, their timing…

…I lost it. Before I even started my speech, I was already crying. I stumbled through it, pausing repeatedly to gather myself up. Then — and here’s the cruelest part — I had to do it again. They wanted me to give it in English and Japanese. So I did. It took a lot out of me.

So, that ends a major chapter of my life. I got way more attached to them than I ever thought I would, and… I think I tuned in more to my feelings in the process. Forget the paperweights and flowers and origami; that is their real gift to me, and it is a precious one.