I feel hopeful today. Lately I have been telling myself that in time I will acclimate and things will be better. That is a hopeful message but I never truly felt that way. They were really just words to make myself feel better, to stay positive. I haven’t been able to see what my life might look like here. I was beginning to think that all I would do for the next four years is sit around all day, go to the gym, walk Kumo, and occasionally go on a trip. I have already been here for three weeks and that is what my life looks like right now, except we haven’t gone on any trips yet. Today, however, I was able to see a glimpse; like one eye peaking behind a window curtain to see what’s outside. I could feel hope that I will actually be comfortable living here someday.
I have been calling my move an adventure, and I have felt that it is in fact an adventure… But I mostly saw it as a sentence. I picture a male judge with a funny voice slamming down a gavel shouting,”You have been sentenced to live in Japan for four years! And have no one but your husband!” I am making it sound as though I am being punished. I don’t feel that way. This is an amazing opportunity for both me and Dan, and we get to spend our first few years of marriage experiencing all new things together–I love that. It’s the thought of four years. Four freaking years. It just seems like a long time. BUT, like I said, I am now feeling hopeful, so maybe after a year or two here, I will think four years is not enough time. Who knows? Not me.
So what has given me this newfound hope, you ask? Well, I went to lunch with two other spouses from the command post (Dan’s job). Like I said in a previous post, I am most happy when I connect with people. One of the ladies picked me up from the apartment, and we met the other at Shimoda mall, which is about twenty minutes from base. On the drive over, she was telling me about the base and how there isn’t a whole lot to do, but there are always places to go. She said there is a lot of outdoorsy things around here, so I’m happy about that. She also talked about how there are stigmas about certain wives that have husbands with higher rankings. For example, pilot’s wives are stuck up and only talk to other wives of pilots. And some feel super entitled just because of their husband’s ranking. They “wear their spouse’s rank” and some actually expect to be saluted if their husband is an officer or something. I couldn’t believe that. How absurd. Obviously not all of them are like that, but just the fact that they exist is so odd to me. She also mentioned how everyone has babies here because there isn’t much to do, so wives are like “I have nothing to do, might as well have a bunch of kids!” No thank you.
The two women (who are close to my age, so I am having trouble deciding what word to use to describe them), have both been on this base for about a year and a half. I told them how uncomfortable I feel off base, and how I have no idea what to do. I asked them how to order my food. That’s how lost I am. Apparently I can just point to pictures and bow a lot. My bow is even shy and timid. I need to practice Japanese so I feel better about communicating… Anyway, we got lunch and our dishes had raw beef and rice served on a skillet sort of thing. The beef cooks as you mix it around, and it’s so tasy! And so simple! During our scolding hot lunch, they told me about all kinds of things, like what markets are good to go to for fresh produce, what cool festivals there are, and what places outside Misawa that are really cool to take trips to. They were getting me excited. I want to do all the things! The plane that I took from Seattle to Japan also goes to South Korea, and apparently military wives will take the plane from here to Korea one day, and come back the next day. They do this to shop or get their hair done or whatever, because it’s much cheaper there than here. I thought that was interesting. Probably something I wouldn’t do.
The stores don’t have actual entranceways and there isn’t always a clear division between stores, so a lot of them look meshed together. There is this one store called Daiso, and it is basically a dollar store except it has everything you can possibly need and the things are good quality. So you are paying very little for nice things. So great! Everything is nice in Japan. And everything is super clean. There aren’t garbage cans anywhere, but it is somehow spotless. I guess the Japanese aren’t jerks and throw their trash on the floor because they can. For some reason that makes me think of what the girls told me about the jails here. We went from the topic of driving to speeding to getting arrested. They said that the police can hold you in a cell up to 30 days without any reason. So if they don’t like you, you stay for longer. And they make you march around, they hit you, your name turns into a number, etc. Crazy. I don’t know how much of that is true, but I don’t think I will experiment. I went from littering to going to jail. Kind of an abrupt change of topic, but I guess not in Japan.
The particular thing that gave me hope about acclimating was when we were driving back. The woman told me to just drive around and get lost somewhere. I imagined myself going out by myself, driving wherever, discovering places I had never been to (everywhere), and it made me feel more like a human being than only a spouse. Until now, it hasn’t occurred to me that I can do things without Dan. Not that I want to be away from him, but I have had the mindset that I am only a visitor here. When we are at the grocery store, I ask Dan if I could get certain things, or at home, I ask him if I can have some of the giant iced green tea bottle he bought. His response is always, “Yeah, of course. You don’t have to ask me.” This is the first time we are spending more than a couple of weeks together, so it still only feels as though I am here to be with him for a short amount of time. And I feel weird being so dependent on him. I see it as it being his money that we are spending, so I feel as though I need to ask for things. I’m going to have to get over that.
So when she said “just drive around,” I realized that this is my home and I should go to the mall if I want to go to the mall, as I would in the states. I don’t need to be escorted there. Well, not until I feel comfortable driving Cricket. One night Dan randomly drove into a parking lot and said, “ok you’re driving.” So we switched places and he told me what to do. He is a good teacher because I was going from gear to gear and I only stalled once!
“You’re doing it!”
“I’m doing it!!”
So that’s my experience with truly feeling hopeful, rather than only acting as though I am.
The past few days have been pretty good. It snows pretty much everyday. It’s not like the U.S. where everyone talks about the snow that is coming, or comments on how much snow they got. It’s not even in a weather report. Snow is never a surprise, it is never a hazard, and it never calls for no school. Something about the snow makes the evening sky purple though, and I love it. It’s impossible to really capture the color with a phone. What I don’t love is going out in the cold. But Kumo is the happiest pup when he is in snow so Dan and I have been taking him to the dog park. On our walk over, it was purely sleeting outside. What was accumulating looked like that dots ice cream or “ice cream of the future”. Perfect little circles that furiously tapped on my hood.
This time before we went to the park, Dan posted on the Misawa Asks facebook page saying that we will be there, so there were actually other dogs for Kumo to run around with. It’s a good way to socialize because you pretty much just stand around and watch your dogs haul ass at each other. There were two Shiba Inus there. Saying that is weird here because Inu means dog in Japanese. So you would be saying Shiba dog. Well, Shibas make the wildest sounds. I can’t even describe it. Most of the time they are snapping at another dog for every reason imaginable, so they sound like a human gargling and screaming at the same time. That’s the best I got.
I really like trees. I guess that’s a weird thing to say, but I think they are pretty. I like the trees here and they look nice with snow on them so I took a few pictures on our walk home.
Thanks for reading! I appreciate having an audience so I am not only writing to myself.