I'm listening to Keane. Keane always reminds me of two things; first, an old friend from college-in-Japan days who introduced me to the band; second, my last (summer) semester of college, when I was slogging through statistics, political science, biosphere geography, and career planning, dreaming about a job in Japan and leaving university and the Minneapolis public transit system behind me forever.
I did find a job in Japan, at the fabulous small company I'd interned at a year earlier. I excitedly looked for apartments and made plans for about a month, before the dark, dark day when they told me they couldn't follow through on their offer after all. Everything came crashing down then and I thought my only chance to get back to Japan was through AEON or GEOS eikaiwa schools. In the end, though, with the help and advice of some friends, I decided to wait, look for a short-term job in the metro area, study Japanese, and apply for the JET program the next year.
Over months and months of working and waiting, studying, failing JLPT 1 by a small percentage, sitting for the JET interview and thinking I'd failed, I moved to California to forget about Japan and to start building a new life. Ironically, the very day I moved in, I got an e-mail from JET notifying me of my acceptance.
The job market in California was tough, to say the least, so the couple of months I was there were spent in nearly fruitless job hunting and frustration. Public transit there is no more pleasant than in Minneapolis, I found. All my hopes and dreams were pinned on my placement in Japan. I found out my placement and tracked down a Catholic church, taking its presence as a sign that this was my path.
After such a buildup, disappointment was perhaps inevitable, but it came from quarters I'd never suspected when, for example, the two friends I'd been keeping closest contact with over the two years decided one after the other to stomp on those friendships and leave me jetting off to the countryside with no one left to call on. The countryside, in turn, which everyone praised to the skies for its friendliness, didn't turn out that way. Left to my own resources week after week, I began to wonder just how many of my life decisions were mistakes, and whether I would ever again find a real friend or a job I liked.
Isolation is the cross of this rural existence, and although I have found a couple of good friends in outlying areas, loneliness rears its head often, and one is constantly reminded she is only a visitor here.
Still, I do believe that I become a stronger person with each passing month. I hope that I will be in a better position to find a good job after this one is over, and that I need not always push forward by myself.
And I still believe, though that belief is often mixed with apprehension and not a little impatience, that I am here for a reason, and that all things will be well in the Lord.