It’s that time. Classes ended last week. I just took my last final exam today, and have started to pack up my room. Somehow, the semester is coming to an end, and I’m getting ready to leave Tokyo.
I’ve been to museums and rock concerts, rooftops and ravines, but there are still so many places I haven’t seen, places I wish I could spend more time in, places I don’t even know about yet. There’s a lot that I’ll miss about Tokyo–the convenience stores; the sense of freedom and adventure that comes with living in a huge city; my cozy little room in Hakusan House with its bed nestled next to the window and its warm yellow corkboard lights–but I think the knowledge that there are things on my list I’ll never get to is what will haunt me the most.
The thing is, I know I never could have done it all. Even if I went everywhere on my list, I’d hear about more places in the process. Even if I stayed here for a lifetime I couldn’t do it all.
So, although I wish I could stay longer, I’m leaving on Thursday morning to travel Japan for a week–going to Kanazawa, Takayama, Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka–before returning to Tokyo to fly out of Haneda Airport. I’m then flying not back home to Chicago, but to Kigali, Rwanda, where I’ll meet up with my family for the first time in four months. We’re spending winter break traveling in Rwanda and Tanzania for two weeks. I have no idea what it will be like, but I’m expecting that such an abrupt change of pace will be disconcerting and surreal. I’m looking forward to it with equal parts excitement and trepidation, much how I felt at the beginning of this program. In some ways leaving Tokyo feels like an ending, but it also feels like the beginning of another kind of adventure. I have no idea what home is going to feel like after this experience. I can’t say how yet, but I’m certain it, or I, will have changed.