With nearly every item on a long checklist completed I had little to do today to distract me. Thinking about the implications of departing for Japan in eight days, I found my mind occupied with a curious mixture of reflection and anticipation.
Over the past three months, my thoughts were focused on the practical aspects of relocation; what I needed to do to leave the United States and start anew in Japan. I only occasionally found myself looking back on a treasure of wonderful lifelong memories. And, I rarely allowed myself to get too excited about the future. There was just too much to worry about and to do to make moving to Tokyo a reality.
Today was different. It was a day of glorious end-of-summer weather and I was relaxed. The packing is nearly complete and I am only anxious about the USDA’s approval and return of Toma’s export permit. After a wonderful brunch with a good friend and former graduate teaching assistant, Nicole Gogan, I spent a lazy afternoon with Toma doing nothing.
The environment was perfect for letting my emotions run free, for allowing my mind to simply drift backward and forward in time. The experience left me drained and exhausted. I was curious why. I finally realized that there was an interesting factor that prompted the extraordinary impact of this experience.
I had spent the previous three evenings watching episodes of the Ken Burns “Country Music” series on PBS. The series has deeply touched my sense of America’s soul. It is a powerfully told story of the America I was born, raised and worked in for 75 years using the emotional impact of music to remind me of events that greatly influenced my life. It has prompted a wide range of feelings –– happiness and sadness, laughter and tears, joy and anger, shame and pride, fear and hope. And these are the same feeling I have about leaving America.
Over the final days here I anticipate even more emotional recognition of my feelings about leaving America. While most are very positive, there are some that will continue to test me. On a personal level, I have yet to have a “goodbye” conversation with my daughters; the divorce, distance and strained relations make that uncertain and troubling. I also cannot escape the impact that Trump has on my thoughts about leaving America.
In either case, I can do nothing to change the course of history. I love my family and pray for their health, safety and prosperity, I love my country and pray that my fellow citizens will force political solutions to preserve domestic tranquility and promote global peace.
While once landing in Japan I intend to fully enjoy the opportunities and experience that Japan presents to me, I will also have time to further reflect on my thoughts about saying goodbye to America. I am confident that they will touch on a variety of topics that I look forward to sharing with you.
September 22, 2019 – Falmouth, Main