Whenever something important in our lives draws closer, she comes knocking. Everyone on the planet earth has felt her caress, heard her promises, and has been betrayed by her. Anticipation is by far the cruelest mistress humanity has known. Sure things such as the sea, good drink, and women have done their best to keep up, but by far anticipation has disheartened more people and obliterated more expectations than any other vice. However, to call anticipation a mistress is actually doing the word harm. Mistress is a more elegant word. It evokes Victorian-like images of a beautiful young woman with a slender form, long hair, and plump endowments. A mistress is something to be desired even lusted over. Anticipation is not really something people like to have. In my opinion, anticipation is more of a swarthy wench. She is not really all that pretty, not all the welcomed, but she promises a good time so you hang around with her. However, before too long you have squandered away your dreams and been pick-pocketed of your hope as anticipation goes off to find her next victim.
By now you have possibly gathered that I may not have the best opinion of anticipation and what it can do for someone’s desires for the future. I can recall one time when I was around ten. I was looking forward to a family vacation at the beach. I was so anticipating the vacation that my little mind went into overdrive thinking of all the awesome things I wanted to do while at the beach. Looking back now I can see anticipation really did have her way with me. What ten-year-old these days has dreams of meeting Aquaman?
Even as I sit here writing this post I can hear her siren song calling me to crash my hopes of Japan upon the jagged crags of reality. I know that there are some things I will be unable to do. I might not be able to hit all of the temples or museums I would like to see. I acknowledge the potential is there to make a complete jerk of myself and not make friends. However, I know the potential is also there for me to come away from this Japanese experience with more dreams accomplished than what I originally came over with. I guess what I am currently fumbling about in my mind is what level of expectations should I have for my trip to Japan? I know I will be over there for a while so I know I will be able to make some good friends. I do hope they end up being long-term friends unlike those friends you make at summer camp to help you survive through the mosquito-infested version of hell. During my time in Japan, I know that my Japanese skill level will improve, but only at the end of the trip will I be able to judge by exactly how much. There are just so many blanks about the experience that in all honesty I have no real idea what to expect. And I love it. Nearly my entire Japanese experience is empty waiting to be filled with readings, friends, moments, food, and events that I cannot wait to experience.
So I guess I am courting the wench of anticipation once again in some form or another. And so what if a few of my desires do not pan out? I will make new desires and make those happen instead.
However, no matter what happens in Japan, something tells me I will be happy to come home. My mom and dad have said many times in the past few weeks, “Gonna miss you.” I, like a good son, reply, “I’ll miss you too.” Of course, it is in fact a trap and my mom will suddenly call out, “No you won’t. You’ll be having to much fun and be working too hard to remember us.” She is joking of course which just reminds me of what I will miss the most, my family.
Let me give you two quick examples of why I love my family, my mom specifically. The other night we decided to cook some breaded pork on the grill. Not sure exactly what I had been tasked with grilling, I asked my mom, “So what are we having? Pork slabs, pork cutlets, pork breasts-“ This last one caused my mother to look at me very quizzically. She then mouthed it out, as if by saying the words she might gain some sort of understanding into what I meant. “Pork… Breasts.” Eventually, after she consulted the sages on the matter, my mother responded saying, “I suppose there could be? Why aren’t there?” This lead us into a discussion concerning the validity of chicken breasts and whether or not they can truly be considered breasts. Some time passed and we came to a verdict. Pork breasts were an actuality because a female pig has nipples inferring breasts. This meant that chicken breasts were debunked as breasts due to a hen’s lack of nipples. To which I responded, “The entire cooking culture of the past few millennia was wrong! Our cooking heritage is a lie!” I am certain my mother would have stood by me on this assertion if she was not bent over because she was laughing too hard.
After dinner my mom and I were discussing our previous chat and how she wanted to have similar rants and funny asides on the website for Secondwind’s, our small family farm, eventual website. That is when she suggested, “You need to write about this for your China blog.” After making sure my hearing had not spontaneously decided to just quit on me, I asked my mom to go through her previous statement. After some prodding and direction, “No not that word, after that… no before that… no after that… okay, between that word and the other one… THAT WORD WASN’T EVEN IN THE STATEMENT!” I finally got her to realize her error in country. She apologized for her error, but being the teacher that I am I decided to explain to my mother the differences between Japan and China:
Japan: Small nation near Korea
China: Big freaking nation that takes up most of Asia
Japan: Slowly losing its population due to people not having children
China: Not going anywhere any time soon
Japan: Currently building robots because it is awesome
China: Currently milking America for all it’s worth
With my mother laughing once again, I smiled and went off to play some video games.
It is moments like these I will keep in my mind as I study in Japan. I will go to Japan with anticipation holding my arm, the sword of my determination at my side, and my family behind me ushering me on. This is going to be my greatest adventure yet.