As happens to everyone when they move, there is a lot to throw away. It’s amazing the things I have accumulated this year: 7/11 receipts, ATM receipts, video rental receipts. A lot of receipts…There are so many things I’ve saved for the sake of memories, for making the scrapbook that will never happen. I still have a museum brochure from that field trip I didn’t even like. Why would I keep that? Why do I want a memory of that? And what do I want with all those ATM receipts anyway?

Moving on is hard. I have so many clothes to get rid of. Thankfully, my beautiful English friend Alice has taken a few pieces off of my hands for me, but I’ve still got two large shopping bags worth of clothes: clothes I really should not have bought, clothes I brought with me that are just done, and clothes that I love but don’t fit my new modesty standards. (I want to respect my body more, and that includes dressing modestly.) When I was packing back in August, I was worried about bringing clothes home, but now I’m sure that I should have enough room.

What is a problem to take home is my books. As of now, my box of books weighs 25 kilos, or 66 lbs. I arrived with about 6 books. Yeah…Books happened. There’s a service to ship books overseas for cheap, but it still comes out to about $200. Ouch. If I can eliminate 10 lbs it will only be $170. Anyway, enough of the book math.

The point is getting rid of stuff is hard. Human beings just have a natural tendency to hoard things, and I am no different. In high school, I was proud of my manga collection, totaling over 130 volumes. And you know what happened? My love shifted from manga to boy-bands and almost over night I was ready to sell my cherished comics. What’s the point in saving everything if my heart may change the next day anyway? (Like that one time I decided I was no longer obsessed with Danny Phantom in a single afternoon…)

It is almost as if amassing great collections makes me a cooler person. I just want to brag about all the books I have, all the clothes I have. But in the past three years, all of my books and clothes have not been “cool”. Every time I have to move my stuff becomes a burden. I stare at the mini-van full of my dorm-room furnishings, and wonder, “Do I really have this much stuff?” And I have stuff at home as well, which means that every year the collection grows. What am I going to do when I move out of the house for good?

So here I am, packing my bags to go home. I feel embarrassed every time I throw away a huge bag of trash. But it’s worth it, because I know that 20 years down the line, I’ll look to my pictures for memories, not my 7/11 receipts.


The In Between

I have impeccable timing. I have finally started blogging (again), but my study abroad trip is nearly over. Blogging from the beginning would have made more sense, and I did try to keep a vlog, but that turned out to be too much of a hassle. (Japan is not as wired as I thought.) It was all for the best though, because this year has been so crazy, I don’t know how I would have had time for a blog. And hopefully by the end of the summer I can learn how to crank out a 500 word entry in under 30 minutes, so I can continue writing when school starts back up again.

So anyway, as I said I’m at the end of my trip. It’s a very strange place to be right now. I’ve had a wonderful year, full of wonderful people and experiences. I have learned so much about people, about Japan, and most importantly about myself. My Japanese grows better every day, and I fear that I won’t progress as much back home. Just today, I was walking home with my circle members (a circle is a kind of club) and thinking about how I’ll miss hearing Japanese every day. I love listening to people speak around me. Back in September it was stressful, but now I understand most of the conversations with ease.

At the same time, however, I’m ready to go home. I have the best boyfriend in the world waiting for me. We only started dating six weeks before I left, so most of our relationship has been long distance. But actually I’m really grateful for it because we have grown closer in so many ways that would not have been possible otherwise, and I appreciate him more, now that I’ve had to go nine months without immediate access.

I’m also excited to cook for myself, and to cook with American produce. I learned I’m gluten sensitive this year, so I look forward to learning how to cook gluten-free. Oh, and I want to eat Kosher. (I don’t want to eat Kosher as defined by modern Jewish dietary laws, but I’ll probably explain that some other time.) It sounds complicated and hard to do, however I’m pretty sure I can solve most of my problems by eating paleo. (What is paleo?) Basically it means sticking to natural, unprocessed foods. I’m actually so eager to start a paleo-lifestyle that I fantasies about all the vegetable cooking I want to do.

All the other reasons I’m ready to go home are not really worth mentioning here. What I really want is to be able to have all my friends and family, an American grocery store, and live in Japan. But, what’s the fun in that?