Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The To-Do List, post-America trip

The former To-Do List:

*work in Japan long enough to pay off my student loans

*return to America, hike the Continental Divide Trail

*look into working with a wilderness therapy program and/or seasonal work

*save money

*buy property somewhere (NE Oregon tops the list)

*build a sustainable (ish) structure to store my life, make a cool garden

The new To-Do List:

*keep working in Japan

*save money

*plot how I can keep my life going outside America

My recent trip to America made me less sure that residing there is a long-term goal of mine. When I was in Peace Corps it was always a temporary position - returning to the U.S. afterwards was part of the plan. Maybe I felt more connected to home because I was getting paid by the U.S. government, or because it was my first time abroad? I'm not sure, but I don't ever remember seriously entertaining staying in Palau longer or moving directly on to another country.

I do remember my flight home from Palau, though, because I said "I've got to get abroad again."

It took me longer (three years) than I anticipated, but I made it back out and lucked into a good life. When I signed up for JET, I thought I might do it for a year or two - long enough to pay off my student loans. But I didn't expect to get a good placement. I don't have any big career or higher education goals (aren't you proud, mom?), so my time here is indefinite. Actually, I don't have many future plans at all, so nothing is pressing me to move my life in a different direction.

With that said, I do think about what could be next. My default plan was to move back to the U.S. and do any number of seasonal jobs I am qualified for while saving my money for a piece of land somewhere. But my last trip to the U.S. turned me off to that idea for at least the immediate future. I have no political aspirations, either, so I can say this: The U.S. didn't do anything for me. Of the few things left that I thought I missed, I was mostly wrong. (I was right about a dog, though. I really wish I could have a good hunting dog along for the ride.)

My desire to eat American food was less than in years past, though I was still looking forward to a few dishes. But I was mostly let down with the food quality and the massive portion sizes (don't get me wrong, I dislike leaving a restaurant hungry, but for some reason I feel more content after a smaller meal in Japan than I did with huge plates of food in the U.S.). (Oh, and mom, your mud pie was great!) I was also looking forward to watching a baseball and football game on TV. I got to see both and was disappointed. The advertising is overwhelming and the color commentators are just filling the space with empty words.

Those were the little things. The big things (politics, sprawl, environmental disregard) hit me pretty hard, too.

It's good for me to get over my American desires because I don't think it's healthy to be living a vicarious American life from another country. I feel really free for having so little in common with America anymore. Sure, I would still take some cheese, chocolate chips, and cheap butter off base, but I also have a box of Captain Crunch (a gift) that's been sitting on my shelf for months. In Peace Corps I would've enjoyed that cereal slowly. Now I only have a desire to get rid of it.


Anonymous said...

Dear Dave-san,

I'm so happy that you come back to Japan. You don't know how much I missed you・・・.

Please listen my message.


Wren said...

Wasn't doing that cross Japan bike trip on your todo list too? Jeez, you gotta keep your priorities straight, man.

Dave said...

Anonymous, it's nice to have you back as well. I really liked your message. Thank you. I don't remember your name - do you want to remind me?

Wren, you're right. I do have that trip on my list. So is hiking the Continental Divide Trail. This post was more an exercise in noting that my timeline for these 'adventures' is on hold. I think I still will do both, but probably not in the next couple years as I'd been thinking. But you're right - yes, that cross-Japan trip is still included in my 'summer-after-JET' plan.