Life in Review: My Powers Grow
From that time on, I becamelaser focused on going to college, studying Japanese, and becoming an English teacher in Japan. In college, I volunteered as an assistant English teacher, taught a deaf girl Japanese, made friends, and continued to build confidence in my abilities. I occasionally had problems with my parents or my sister, but they weren’t so big. Every day was good.
Although I focused on living in Japan, I realized that my parents, especially my mom would have a tough time with me away. We were very close. Their only son was planning to live far away from them. I felt great about my future, but I was worried about theirs.
Then, I got an interesting opportunity that changed things. My Japanese teacher announced that some Japanese students were going to come study at the school for two weeks, and they needed host families. I liked the idea of having time to practice Japanese and learn more about Japanese culture. On top of that, my parents would have the opportunity to learn more about the world I wanted to live in. They thought it sounded interesting, so we became a host family.
We had a great two weeks. Before our first student left, our family started hosting another Japanese student. That student lived with us for three years. Ever since then, my parents have hosted many students, often hosting three or four students at a time. They are recognized as the best host family in the area. Students give referrals to family and friends. My mom can make use of her mothering instincts, and my dad has a regular supply of test subjects for his upcoming international comedy career.
Students from India and China can’t replace a son, but they can keep life interesting.
After my first year in college, I was able to study in Japan for two months. I studied photography, visiting Tokyo regularly as part of the class. I finally had a chance to experience the place that I had fallen in love with. Yet, it was a bit of a mixed bag. I enjoyed Japan and had fun with Japanese students, but it felt like something was missing. That’s not surprising. I wasn’t in love with Japan. I was in love with my idea of Japan. When I came face-to-face with the object of my love, I found out how familiar it was. Of course, Japan is special. Tokyo is a great place. But I expected heaven and I got earth.
Even so, I loved Japan all the same.
For the sake of completeness, I think I should mention an embarrassing moment I had while I was there. A few weeks into my stay, I had a casual conversation with a pretty Japanese girl as part of a group. We talked about things we like, hobbies, etc. We both liked One Piece, that Japanese cartoon I mentioned before. She invited me to talk some more about it later, just the two of us.
Later, we met. I talked about cartoons. Then she left.
The embarrassing part is that I didn’t realize what I had done until a few years ago.
The great thing about Japan is that it isn’t filled with giant fat people. There are handsome dudes and pretty ladies everywhere, with fat people the exception. Living in Japan made me realize I needed to up my game. Nice Japanese ladies don’t want to date the Michelin man, I thought (not yet realizing a girl had been interested in me already).
After returning to the US, I started biking to school. Later, I discovered the ketogenic diet. In a couple of years, I dropped 60 pounds. For the first time, I started taking care of my body.