11 years ago, I arrived in Japan not even knowing how to introduce myself in Nihongo. Terrified that someone from my school would not be there to pick me up and I only have a one-way ticket. Plenty of Japanese walking briskly at Narita airport and I don’t know a single soul.
10 years ago, after the rigid language training, I can say my name as how the Japs say it “Gure-su” and more – I was enrolled in the university, sitting in the class with 40+ other Japanese classmates, desperately trying to scribble down notes from what I see as “strange graphics” on the whiteboard.
9 years ago, in the middle of a class lecture, I noticed that there is one classmate who is constantly coming in late. He sits at the back and never bothers to take down notes and always do something else, like read books. Rumors say that he is the oldest in our class as this is his second degree…and he does not need to study, he was the brightest.
8 years ago, the brightest and I were on the same laboratory experiment. We were paired out of random. I detested that he had to do our experiments so quickly and I had to stay after classes and repeat it all for my own sake.
7 years ago, after a shocking heartache I refused to go to school for days. Someone knocked at my dormitory room, of course I did not answer. The person at the other side of my door slid my accomplished term papers through the small space and had a post-it with broken English: “I answered these for you, so you will not fail and go back to your home country.”
…that summer he took me to countryside Japan to see things I never thought I could see (I have no car and train tickets I could not afford!)…he was unbelievably friendly.
…in that countryside 7 summers ago I let my wounds heal and promised to myself to pick up the pieces of my broken heart. The place was a heavenly respite from the hectic, chaotic life of the city.
6 years ago, he was helping me write my first resume, trained me to answer interview questions and drove me to my first job interview, 400 kms from the city.
5 years ago, I finally accepted his proposal to start a life together.
4 years ago TODAY, we were married.