times they are a’changin’

A lot happened yesterday, but I think that the most important thing was at the very end: the long discussion Evan and I had about our future. We have both decided that I will not be re-contracting with the Japanese Exchange Teaching Program (JET) for a fifth year, and so we will be leaving Fukuoka in August 2018.

Right now I feel a little bit like a goldfish that’s become too big for it’s bowl, and I need more space to swim around in. My role as Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) is beginning to plateau. I don’t feel like there’s anything left for me to learn as an ALT. These days I simply pass the time and get through work until my next big trip abroad or new experience here in Japan. Now that all those places and experiences on my list have been getting crossed out though… What do I have to look forward to? And is there anything actually tying me to this place any more?

After close to three years of teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), Evan and I are both able to say that it is not where our passions lie. It isn’t that we don’t love the people or the kids, or that we’ve grown tired of Japan, and we aren’t jaded exactly. We’ve just both come to realize that we have more to give to the world, and that we want more in return as well. What do I mean by “more”? Neither of us are really sure.

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n’est-ce pas?

     He smiled. “I do not think I have a home there any more.”

And then: “No. I would not like to go to Italy – perhaps after all, for the same reason you do not want to go to the United States.”

“But I am going to the United States,” I said, quickly. And he looked at me. “I mean, I’m certainly going to go back there one of these days.”

“One of these days,” he said. “Everything bad will happen – one of these days.”

“Why is it bad?”

He smiled, “Why, you will go home and then you will find that home is not home any more. Then you will really be in trouble. As long as you stay here, you can always think: One day I will go home.” He played with his thumb and grinned. “N’est-ce pas?”

— James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room