Saturday, January 26, 2008

Departure Terminal

What a strange and sobering day so far.

I got up pretty early this morning to tie up the last couple loose ends that I had remaining in Japan. I rode about Fukuchiyama on a bike and took in the little town for the last time. That was kind of sad; while I have no doubt I will come back to Japan someday, I know I won't be coming back to Fukuchiyama. It has been my home for two years and knowing that I wasn't going to see it again made me a little sad.

Around 11:30 I lugged my "American-sized" baggage to the nearby train station and after a small skirmish with my big bag, I got on the train and watched my neighborhood roll past me for the last time. When I got to Fukuchiyama station, I went to the convenience store and got laughed at by the staff for the giganticness of my bag. When I told them I was going back to the US they asked if I was taking Japan with me in a bag that big. I wish I could.

My train ride out of Fukuchiyama reminded me of one of the reasons I love this place so much, the people. I let everyone board the train before me because I knew I was going to be standing in between the cars most of the way because there was no way I was going to be able to fit my big bag in the train car. As I got on, I had another battle with the big bag and was help by a guy in a business suit. As the train pulled away, I was standing near my big bag when he came back to where I was and told me that he had made room for me to come and sit down. I was hesitant to leave my bag unattended but he seemed to think it would be ok and so I went to sit down. What the guy actually did, was explained to a person that I had a lot of bags and convinced that person to share a seat with someone else so I could have two seats to myself. As I sat down he then offered me some rice crackers and after accepting them, he went back to his own business.

A short while later, I made room for a lady to sit down next to me and by the end of the train ride she had given me her address and phone number and told me that if I ever came back to Japan, that I should give her a call and visit. If I was in to older women, I would have a hay day here.

After the first train, I jumped on to the express train that would take me to Kansai Airport. I could have sat down but they had a standing area that no one was occupying and I figured I would watch the sprawl of Osaka coast by me just one more time. What started as a snowy day morphed into a slightly cloudy but sunny one and I was able to see the cityscape draped in heavily contrasted shadows and streams of sunlight. It was a good way to end everything.

Now, having gone through customs and having surrendered my Japanese ID, I am no longer a resident of this funny little country but rather a tourist making his exit. I am sitting in the flight terminal, watching puffy clouds hover over one of my favorite cities from across Osaka Bay. It is quiet now and it feels like this paragraph of my life is gently writing its epitaph as I prepare to get on a plane and embark on a new page.


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