Scooter vs Japan

Oh, My Love, My Darling | September 10, 2015

Image added for hilarious effect.

First off, apologies for not posting. I’ve been busy as hell, and didn’t have reliable internet access for almost a month. Anyways, on with the show.

It’s been 15 years. Wow. 15 years ago, I met my high school love. 15 years of laughs and tears, arguments and agreements. We’ve been together half of my life, but it hasn’t always been easy… and I’m scared it’s finally going to end.

High School Sweethearts
We met when I was in grade 11. I’d been with someone else for the last year, but when we met, it felt like love at first sight. Like every ridiculous teen drama, coming of age film, or story of youth, it’s like time stopped when we first met.

From that moment, we did everything together. I introduced her to my friends, we watched movies together, dreamed of our lives as adults… even a drunken phone call that went remarkably well. We were together, in love, bad that’s all that mattered.

A Taste of Grown Up Life
Like everything else, our relationship changed after high school. I moved so I could be with her, but things got complicated. Paying rent for the first time, having my first real job, and wanting to hang out with my friends really put a strain on our relationship. We weren’t spending nearly enough time together, though it wasn’t like we didn’t try.

We were in love. If our relationship got more complicated, it was because I was a budding adult and struggling, like every kid that age, with entering that new phase of life. We kept going, even when we didn’t get to spend a lot of time together. We always talked about how we’d be able to spend more time together once I started University, but things took a complicated but beneficial detour.

Dating and College Life


We finally got ahead of our relationship when I went back to school. It took over 2 years, but I was finally doing some upgrading and transfer courses so I could get until University. That first semester was hell and we spent a few months apart, but things got better.

We were finally together again, and I fought hard to keep it that way. No one was going to get in our way this time, and I kept fighting to keep us together. When the time came, I jumped on the chance to transfer to the University, where I could continue school in a more meaningful way and could spend more time with her. Everything was finally where it should be.

Life Problems and First Fight
This was so perfectly timed that you could almost set your watch to this. A little bit into University, our relationship started to run into problems. It started when I met some of her friends. They were cool at first, but I started hating being with them. It was like there was something special between them that I didn’t have; like maybe they were too close. Then came the arguments. Basically, we couldn’t stay as high school sweethearts anymore, and I was struggling with what that new relationship would look like. We started fighting over our relationship, what we wanted, what was best for us, and who everyone else wanted us to be. The while thing pulled me in every direction and was really hard on our relationship.

Meanwhile, I was having some problems in school and I’d just gotten into a bad fight with my mom over dependence, support, and constantly feeling lime I was never being listened to. Everything came up at the same time and it just destroyed me. I had a complete breakdown, nearly left school, and started question my relationship with my love. I was deeply depressed and sought some advice from a Buddhist monk, counsellor, and a teacher of mine from high school.

My counsellor helped me sort out the school problems, the monk help me stabilize emotionally, and my teacher gave me some wonderful but detrimental advice about my relationship. He told me, basically, that we should love each other because we love each other, not because we were together in high school.

We took some time apart while I sorted myself out, which was a blessing and a curse. I was free to look after myself and took a more firm stance when it came to school and my personal relationships. But it also meant that I basically had to break up with the love of my life in order to do so.

But we didn’t break it off completely. We still stayed friends and she stuck around for support when I needed her, but we needed to be apart for a while.

Second Try


As I got better, I longed for my sweetheart. I knew our relationship wasn’t the same anymore and never would be, but I was ready to fight for my love again. And I finally found our opportunity. We applied to study abroad together.

Just me and her, side by side again. I couldn’t wait. We got back together, and started dating all over again so we could get back to where we were. Finally, I felt like my life was back on track and finally had my love by my side once more.

Things in Japan were great. We’d never been so in love. Our relationship really blossomed there, but there was always that haunting feeling in the background that maybe things weren’t as good as we thought. We worked on our relationship, met some great friends, and I really felt like we were in a better place for it.

Then we met again. My first fling, the one I was with before I met my love, turned up in Japan. We reconnected a but and she was really fun to be around. We knew it was over, but we both really wondered what could have been. We flirted a little, but I went back to my love. But I couldn’t get her out of my head. We were so good together. She awoke old and new feelings that I thought had passed. She challenged me in ways that I couldn’t even imagine.

I tried to reflect on all the soul searching I’d done before going to Japan, and it didn’t look good. All if those problems, all if that advice.. it pointed to her. It supported the fling that I felt I was being lured into instead if staying with my true love. Everyone I respected seemed to be telling me to break it off and run away with my first live. It was crazy, and almost 6 years later, I’m still wondering if I made the right choice.

No. I was committed. My love and I flew half way around the world to be together and strengthen our relationship. I still wanted to be friend. I kind of wanted to be tempted. It was actually a little exciting. But that time passed and I was with my new love.

Hard Choices


Things went well in Japan. Like, really well. But it didn’t last. Although we rekindled, we didn’t really sort through anything. Back in Canada, we kind of fell back into our old rut. I had a degree to salvage and a career to try and plan, and we decided to take a little time apart again so I could get through that without the stress of out relationship crumbling again.

We broke up a second time, but it was on good terms this time. We stayed in touch and talked about when we’d be getting back together. We knew we were going to try and make it work once everything was settled. But that’s when things took a bad turn.

Just after coming back to Canada, my health failed. I developed a serious and crippling balance problem that nearly took me out of school and almost left me disabled. Although I got better, I’ve since relapsed a few times, couldn’t work, and nearly lost everything.

Meanwhile, I struggled with life after school. I was depressed, alone, unemployed, and unmotivated. I couldn’t face my love. And got back on my feet and started to turn things around, but when I relapsed again, I was forced to move away and live at home while I got better.

This was the first time my love and I had actually been sort, and it was brutal. I was so sick and depressed that our relationship really took a hit again. I hit rock bottom and felt like I could handle anyone being in my life. I couldn’t look after myself, wasn’t making responsible choices, and knew that in my current state, I risked destroying any relationship I was in. So I kept pushing her away.

Once again, I started to recover, and I called her up again. I felt like shit, but I finally knew what I had to do. I’ve wanted to be a teacher since we met, and the time was finally right to apply for a teaching job in Japan. We weren’t sure about it, but we could finally get back together. She helped me through the application process, her warm and always giving heart being the only think that seemed to keep my spirit up through the long wait and my recovering health.

JETs, Trains, and Automobiles
Hand in hand, we made it through. I was accepted to JET and my love was coming with me, returning to Japan to be together again. School was over, I was healthy again, and I felt like this time we could finally get it right…

I hope.

We’ve been through so much together. Literally so much that I can’t even thing clearly about it. We’ve fallen in and out of love several times over the last 15 years, and it really plays with my head sometimes. What if we can’t make it work? What if we’re holding on too tightly to the past or a life we can’t have? What if this really isn’t what we’re supposed to be doing? Are we destined to be trapped in this cycle of loving abuse and sadness?

Truth

You’re probably wondering what the hell I’ve been going on about. Well, hold onto your butts.

My high school love, the one I keep struggling with, is Japan. Or more specifically, the Japanese language.

Yep. I dated books.

Over the last 15 years, I’ve been through a lot, and I’ve always had Japanese beside me to help. But sometimes that relationship has gotten very complicated and even become the source of some of the problems I’ve had to face.

My relationship with Japan has changed quite a bit over the last several years, and I’m left wondering what I should do. Is my future really with Japanese, my second love, high school sweetheart, and on again off again fling of the last several years? Am I basically in an abusive relationship?

Since Gaidai, I’ve finally been able to find some clarity in the words of my high school Japanese teacher. Through Japanese, I’ve lived on my own, gone through university, developed new hobbies and interests, become Buddhist, and developed professional skills. I’d gotten into event planning and learned about administration. I’ve learned about Japanese culture in a way I’d never understood in high school. If Japanese and I aren’t going to work out, she’s at least shown me some new options.

But does that mean I should walk away? Should I just hang up Japanese and say job well done? Or should I keep trucking? I have every opportunity to improve my language and a pretty good environment. I think if it’s going to work, it’s going to work now. But if it doesn’t work, then what?

Conclusion
This is the crap my brain comes up with and the decisions that continue to haunt me. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been chasing JET for so long that I don’t know what to do next. That’s how I feel about Japanese too. Where do we go from here? How do we go on after all this time, all this pain? Do I have a fallback plan in case it really doesn’t work?

I dunno.

But hey. At least I can tell a really funny story about it.

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About author

Scooter is an ESL teacher and Japanese anthropologist. He hopes to document his thoughts of living in Japan, continued cultural studies, and to provide advice for others looking to hop the pond.

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