This is actually an article for the Fellow’s newsletter at Baylor, so you guys can be my editors.
Tis the night before Christmas, and all through the dorm
Not a creature was stirring, ‘cept the spider on my wall.
No stockings or chimneys are here to be seen,
And as for St. Nick, she’s beckoning me into KFC.
With a little shame, I admit that I wrote that terrible poem under watch of the growing collection of anime figurines at the corner of my desk. Ya, I’m one of those guys. If you haven’t already guessed, I’m studying abroad in Tokyo, Japan. I came here for a few reasons. I love to travel. Doesn’t matter where, I just do. I love an adventure, and how better to find that than to uproot yourself from your small Texas town and everything you’ve ever known to the biggest metropolis in the world. And, I secretly love Japan’s weird culture. Well, I should say formerly secretly. I suppose you all know now that I just told you about my collection of anime figurines. I’m actually quite proud of them. I’ve always had a strong desire to collect things. Anything. Coins, stamps, rocks, baseball cards, antiques, and now anime figurines. I’m going to be on Hoarders one day. I’m also easily distracted. We’ll go back to studying abroad in Japan.
I really have no idea where to go with this paper. Before writing this sentence, I had already written a couple paragraphs, deleted them, and started over from here. There is no “short version” or the “highlights.” The highlights have been the little things; watching Disney’s fireworks from the park at night, stumbling lost and confused out of a trail into the back of an amusement park, and finding a figurine of Yui with her guitar for 1500 yen. I love the park below me. On Sunday it’s full of sports teams playing, kids sliding down the hills, families and friends eating together, and sunsets over the river. It’s nice. It’s a little like home. That is not to say that it is like Texas, because they are not remotely the same. It is home in the sense that I know it well but love it every time. I love to wander and wonder at the world. Photography has become a hobby for me here. I ride the train out to a completely unremarkable city, get off, get lost, get my bearings, and get home in time for dinner. Somewhere in there I usually find time for a few hundred photos too. I’ve seen all the big stuff like Shibuya and the Emperor’s Palace, but they usually don’t make the biggest impression. I think that is because often all they are is a sight. Just a thing. But a shrine at the top of a hill that overlooks the city you walked from, that has a story and stories are what I remember. I remember being exhausted, but proud of making all the way around Laka Tazawa just in time to take pictures of the sunset. I remember getting lost in Kyoto and having a very kind man whose daughter is studying abroad in England drive me to my hotel. I remember feeling like a kid in a candy shop in Akihabara. All I remember of the Emperor’s Palace was a man sitting and drawing the scenery and wishing I could draw. It’s an immense garden with ponds and old buildings and perfectly groomed lawns, but what I seem to remember has never been the remarkable, but rather the unremarkably unique and picturesque.
I suppose I should remark a little more on the poem at the beginning. I am writing this at 1:30 AM on Christmas. It doesn’t feel like Christmas. There was no candle light service. I have no family in town. My Mom’s birthday was today (Don’t worry, I wished her a happy birthday via skype), and it is the first time I have ever been away from home this time of year. I miss my family a bit and there’s just no replacement for Christmas morning at Nana’s, but despite that homesickness, I in no way regret coming here. If you study abroad, you will miss home. You’ll miss your bed and your room and your family and most of all, at least for me, forks. But Japan has become home for me too. Despite all those things I miss, I’m not sad. I spent all day today shopping with friends. I’m spending all night writing this with Konata, Yui, Mugi, and the spider that lives in my room to keep my company (I swear I’m mostly normal). And tomorrow, I have no idea what I’ll do, but I’m sure it will include skype with my family, dinner with friends, and the most un-normal Christmas ever.
I think I ought to wrap this up now as it seems to have gotten rather long. Actually, by the time this is sent out it may be half the length it once was. I suppose for you 140 character or less twitter fans, I shall have to just say “Read the previous 32 tweets.”