Walking along the gray streets, sometimes, I wonder how I survived all this time without you.
You said goodbye one morning, and although it was not up to you to stay, or to leave. The fact is that you left, and your farewell changed my life. For better or worse nothing was the same.
I was never the same.
And although, I know, deep down in my heart, that you never wanted to leave me, yet again you did.
Ironically, none of us had a say in what happened, but it still hurts, even today. In every step I walk, in every moment I live, in every dream, I still hope to find you.
And I want to think that you remember me as well. I want to believe that this post will reach you. And, that you will read it, and we will be together in some parallel universe. In one way or another.
Somehow trying to explain the emptiness you left in me, I had come up with the crazy idea that when you left, you took a piece of my heart to later hide it somewhere in the world. And that’s why I have lived like a gypsy looking for that missing part of me. Like a cursed soul, whose only hope to survive is to follow the memory of you in this world.
I guess what I mean to say so inadequately in these lines is that I will always love you and that nothing could ever erase nor replace you, ojii-chan (ojii-chan means grandpa in Japanese)
Yokohama, the biggest city in Kanagawa-ken has different faces. Traditional and modern. Old and new collectively creat and craft the identity of this lovely city.
I was just taking as many pictures as I could possibly take in the incandescent heat of the summer, without perishing from a heatstroke. When I found this: A gigantic snoopy that made it all better.
I also found jugglers entertaining children and adults with children’s souls 💕 It was nice.
Not a while ago, I quit, what many would call, a dream job in Japan. But there was still something missing in my life. Do not think for a moment, I am ungrateful to my employers, on the contrary, I was lucky to work with them. But it was time to move on. In the last e-mail they sent, I was asked if I’ll ever come back. So I replied as honestly as I could, I told them that they’d find someone else, better than me, because they deserve better. But I also told them they could always call me and count on me. And yes, we could still be friends. I will always be there for them.
I know comparing quitting a job with breaking with a boyfriend, might sound disrespectful for some people, but in Japan, where work ethics are still very traditional, getting a job is a life-time-commitment. In other words, in Japan, you just don’t get a job, you marry your job. You read that correctly.
You marry your job. Your job is your priority number one. And you immediate supervisor becomes your mother/father, to whom you’re obliged to obey. No arguments. Your boss’s word is final. In a traditional Japanese company, there is no room for “I.” What matters the most is “We,” the group, even to the cost of your well-being.
This is an actual cultural fact. When you get a job in these islands, you stay with the same company for life. You give them your life, and in return, the company looks after you. And although this has started changing during the last two decades, I was fortunate enough to experience this unbreakable bond, that still exists, in the Japanese Business world.
In other words, quitting was not easy. But, I was lucky enough to see, to live and, to experience this cultural phenomenon in order to transmit to all of you.
Cabe la casualidad que siempre que el silencio cae en mi alma, acallando la inspiración, tengo una taza de café al lado haciéndome compañía.
En esos silencios, siento como si el mundo entero se detuviera, y solamente de mi dependiera su continuidad, como la historia que nunca acaba. Pero aún así, las letras caen al suelo, y ni el miedo a desaparecer puede recogerlas de ahí.
Las letras caen y se niegan a levantar vuelo, como aves heridas, se quedan allí, sin vida. Y el aroma del café recién hecho consuela de alguna manera mi duelo.
Porque no hay pena mayor que la de querer escribir, y no encontrar las palabras, o peor aún, que estas se nieguen a cooperar. Y cuando estoy pasa, decido dejarlas ser. No les ruego, ni les suplico que me perdonen por mi falta de talento.
Las dejo a su capricho.
Y me envuelvo en obscuridad, pero cada mañana al regresar a este mundo, antes incluso de agradecer a Dios por traerme de vuelta al mundo de los vivos, preparo una tacita de café, como si esta obscura poción tuviera la clave de todas las preguntas que ya entran por la ventana sin darme tregua.
Bebo cada sorbo, y puedo sentir cada gota de café mezclándose con mi sangre, reencarnando mi conciencia en la persona que debería ser yo y que sin embargo nunca llega a ser.
Y al terminar el día, las letras yacen ahí, mientras yo termino de beber las últimas gotas del bendito elixir.
Es así que el café marca, para mí, el inicio y el fin de cada día.
Being an immigrant, I feel thankful for all the opportunities I’ve been given in all the countries, I’ve been lucky enough to be welcomed. For all the people, who received me, not as a stranger, but as a friend, as one of them. And for that, I’ll be forever grateful.
Since I learned to read, my favorite topics were literature, history, and geography. To hell with mathematics and algebra, who needs to know how to convert algorithms in real life?….I’m actually asking you. Do you know why they torture us with those classes? Anyway, I was always curious, so I had lots of questions: Why Italy was called Italy? Why doesn’t everybody speak Spanish? How come English sounded so scary? Believe me, when I say, my English teachers didn’t make my learning process very easy.
Moreover, growing up with my Okinawan grandparents only fueled my natural curiosity, because I learned there was a different world out there, and I was going to discover it. But, truth be told, I never thought, even in my wildest dreams to land on this beautiful island. I was happily living in my cold Colorado, eating hot pockets and rocking the world. When suddenly, everything changed. It felt like an earthquake in my life, but I’m sure it was part of what we call destiny, and I arrived in Japan in 2006. Exactly, 10 years ago. And although it wasn’t easy at first, I realized that maybe, I could make myself at home. After all, I hadn’t forgotten all the Japanese my grandfather dutifully had taught me while playing the sanshin (Okinawan guitar) in the warm afternoons we shared at home so many years ago.
Since my experience, I can tell you that being an immigrant is not so bad, as long as the locals welcome you, and you try to adapt. In other words, like in every relationship, everything is 50%-50%. Give and take. We, immigrants, need to adjust to the new land; we need to learn the local language, respect the local culture and the law. We can’t just arrive and do things our way. We must remember that we are guests in a foreign land.
Please, do not think for a moment, I’m a Bretix or a Trump supporter. Those two catastrophic political events are nothing but a shame. Moreover, listening to Trump talk is like listening to Hitler. A monster using ignorance to catapult its political ambitions. So, let’s just be careful about our choices. Because if the locals support this kind of politicians then God helps us all. There is no hope.
Furthermore, if we think immigrants are the cause of the social problems in our countries, then I advise you take a closer look at what’s happening in the world. Outside your community, outside your borders. Search for information, read and try to understand that the world is not the same as fifty years or merely two decades ago. In these days, to get a job, we need more skills, more experience. And as we, immigrants, know we have to work hard, study and never stop learning to have a chance. A chance. Sometimes, literally one chance, we are aware, we have to prepare constantly, and untiringly, so we are ready for any job that might come along. Our advantage is hard work because we are trying to survive. And maybe have the chance of a life.
Please think of that before voting for Trump. For Britain and Brexit, it might be a little bit too late. But seeing Boris Johnson becoming the new foreign secretary, I’m convinced more than ever that karma does exist for countries that do not choose their leaders wisely.