Kristen was first. I didn’t even get to do a proper farewell as I was sick for her going away party. After I put Krissy and her family in a taxi at the end of their visit, Will and I hopped a train to Missy’s to say our good-byes. Two days later, we hugged Abbie and her kids one last time. Two more sleeps and it was Suzanne’s family’s turn . There was a about a two week break. Then Sharon and her girls left. Two weeks later, perhaps the most difficult good-byes: Annaliesse and Lindsey.
It hasn’t been entirely depressing. We’ve attended fun Sayonara parties, and we squeezed in a lot of activities with these wonderful friends. We finally ventured to Sarushima, AKA Monkey Island, the only natural island remaining in Tokyo Bay. We braved this on a public holiday, Marine Day, as I had heard they run extra ferries to accommodate the crowds. A short ferry ride took us to the island where the holiday barbeques were in full swing. Despite the heat, we managed to lead the eleven children on a short hike looking at the remains of the fortress and examining some tide pools. We finished the afternoon swimming at the beach to cool off. The ferry line was super long when it was time to leave but luckily a second boat arrived quickly to take us back to Yokosuka.
We had another group outing to one of the best indoor playgrounds, Kid O Kid, in Yokohama. Annaliesse, Shawna, Elizabeth and I had a blast.
Ok, we did bring the kids too. During the summer season, the all day pass was a little more expensive at ¥1900, but we made the most of it. We played for a couple hours, ate lunch at the mall’s food court, then went back for another two hours. Everyone else then went home, but Will played at the Minatomirai Splash Pad outside for another hour. My child’s energy knows no limits.
We’ve enjoyed some more summer festivals. Several of us dressed ourselves and kiddos up for the Tourou Lantern Festival in Yokosuka. I immediately felt like the festival itself was a little disappointing compared to others, but all our close friends were there so it would certainly be fun. Unfortunately, Will fell about 3 minutes after we arrived and cut his forehead quite deeply. At least we had 2 doctors and a nurse with us. We got the bleeding under control, and they all agreed medical glue was the solution. We bandaged him up and a good friend/Samaritan glued it shut later that night allowing us to remain at the festival longer and skip a trip to the ER. Our friends are amazing!
Lindsey planned a last hurrah at Kamakura’s annual firework show. We joined 150,000 others at Kamakura’s beach to watch the 50 minute show. Lindsey arrived in the late afternoon and got a great spot almost directly lined up with the firework barges. I am so glad that I have realized that one does not need to sit all day to get a seat for these firework shows. I have been to several now and there is always room for people who arrive shortly before the show. Will and I met them about an hour before the show with our picnic dinner: fried chicken for Will and sushi and sauvignon blanc for me. Elizabeth came last, completely flabbergasted by the sheer number of people. The fireworks were incredible, and we let the beach clear a bit before heading out. Lindsey had driven but Elizabeth and I joined the end of the masses heading to the train station. The crowd stopped almost a block outside the station. We waited about ten minutes wondering how long it was going to take for this line to work its way inside. Then we started moving forward. We realized that workers had blocked the entrance with a rope and were essentially letting in enough people for each train. It took a couple minutes to scan into the station, but once inside we simply walked up and boarded a train. The bulk of people were headed to Tokyo so our train was fairly empty. I am always impressed how prepared places are to deal with these large events.
We’ve also been swimming a lot at the beach and pool. The Zushi Pool may be my absolute favorite pool ever. There is a lazy river where I get to float in a tube, and Will swims along beside me wearing himself out. It is pretty awesome. In general, we’ve been keeping busy. However, all this fun has been often interrupted with the days dedicated to saying good-bye.
Last Friday we had a play date at the Navy Lodge before Lindsey left. Lindsey and her family were on the plane over with us. They have been part of our Japan story since Day One. When the van pulled up to take them to the airport, Phillip asked if there was another van coming for the rest of us. Moving is a difficult concept for four year olds to grasp. Will seems to be handling it better than expected although he doesn’t understand why he can’t simply go to Phillip and Addie’s new house to play.
Admittedly, it’s been emotional saying, “See you later,” to so many wonderful people in such a short time. These are all friends who have greatly enriched our lives and our experience here. In short, these are all people that have become our family as our family is half way across the world. This is who we have leaned on and celebrated with. These are the people Will remembers hugging and laughing with and joining us on the events that define our years here. This month marks the point where Will has now lived in Japan longer than he has lived in the US. We’ve talked a lot about America as most of these departing friends are moving back stateside. If asked, Will knows he’s American but he also will state that he’s Japanese too. This was perhaps reflected the other night. I was lying in his room helping him to fall asleep. Shortly after he started snoring and I was getting ready to tiptoe out, he yelled out “Konnichiwa” in his sleep and tipped his head in a slight bow. Japan is firmly Will’s home. He doesn’t remember America. And to be honest, Japan feels a lot like home to me too. It’s been over two years since I’ve been back in the states. It will be interesting to see how “home” feels once it sinks in that a lot of my family by choice are no longer here.
After our good-byes to Annaliesse, I had tears streaming down my face. I feel like I’ve been swallowing tears for over a month, but this time I couldn’t hold them in. Will was hugging me and kept telling me “Mommy it’ll be OK. You’ll make new friends.” I suppose there are no better words to hear from your Navy brat.
I do still have good friends here. I also have made an effort to make new friends. Perhaps one of the best things about having navy friends is it is likely we will cross paths again. If not by chance, then I know efforts will be made to see each other again. I have always said that if at each duty station, I make one truly great friend I feel blessed. Here I have been so fortunate to have made many “forever friends”. I am trying to remember that whenever I feel like crying. These friends may be somewhere else but the friendship remains. To keep myself out of a funk, I’ve been continuing to get fun events on the calendar and have been planning trips this winter to Hong Kong, Vietnam and Cambodia. I’m grateful that I’m not ready to leave Japan or all these goodbyes would’ve been that much more difficult if coupled with jealousy. Let me not forget, there’s a lot of living left to be done and most importantly a lot of love still here.
More photos and helpful links below….
- Sarushima /Monkey Island (use Google chrome to translate—this site includes ferry schedule and up to date information): https://www.tryangle-web.com/sarushima.html
- Zushi Pool Location: https://goo.gl/maps/AeYvprkuLwr
- Past blog about Kid o Kid: https://sushitoiletninja.wordpress.com/2016/01/20/let-the-good-times-roll/
- Minatoemirai Splash Pad Location: https://goo.gl/maps/r9t4v7ceiv52