In August we left Japan.
While we were studying in Osaka, we were alarmed by low offers on our house in the US. We discovered that this was due to damage from an aggressive termite season caused by an extra rainy Louisiana summer. It didn’t help that we were already beat down from culture shock, the demands of student life, and the price of living in the comfortable city center of Osaka. We stopped studying and went home to assess the damage and were shocked by how much fell apart while the home was left five months unoccupied. When we arrived, we couldn’t open the front door due to a damaged floor in our entry way, and the bathroom, laundry room and dining room floors were visibly crumbling in segmented rows. Spiders had made homes in the ceiling corners, along with an old stuffed bat (a Halloween decoration hanging in a dark corner that we thought we had lost), and a few large roaches iconic to Louisiana had found a final resting place in a few spots of the once beautiful, now spongy original hardwood floors. We purchased cleaning supplies and got to work the day we moved back in, as well as spending our first week without hot water, as we were greeted by two major hurricanes that hit SW Louisiana/SE Texas. (and ruined my birthday, too.)
The reality of leaving our dream of living in Japan prematurely to protect our property in America was a tough pill to swallow, although I recently had the pleasure of stumbling upon a Tweet from Alysia Judge of an ancient translated Japanese poem, Although the Wind, by Izumi Shikibu (translated by Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Aratani), from 10th Century Japan:
In their original Japanese, these lines are 1,000 years old. If 2018 has had a hard start for you personally, emotionally or even politically, it might be a small comfort that someone a millennium ago also felt damaged, but looked up. pic.twitter.com/Cjdh124y5e
— Alysia Judge (@AlysiaJudge) January 3, 2018
I felt a particular connection with it, particularly with this love/hate relationship with our home in Louisiana. Visually, I love it. It is filled with unique textures and architectural touches, was Colton’s childhood home, and was restored and designed entirely by his father in the 1970’s. The home is old and substandard but near the garden district in downtown Lake Charles, which the charm, location and history almost makes up for the lack of central heat and the fact that it leaks air like an old kitchen colander.
This year, my trusty old Magnolia tree saved our yard from the snow. I live an hour from the Gulf of Mexico. I’ve only seen snow here twice in the 10 years I’ve lived here.
This year has been a strange winter, and due to the severity of the cold it was the first year we experienced the Christmas of dragging the bed into the warmest rooms while I battled off the flu, and hoping my foot won’t go through a new part of the floor in the midst of the shuffling. It’s also been a costly project to restore, and it doesn’t come without it’s controversies, as most things left over after a family tragedy. It’s been a heavy physical and emotional load on Colton and I, and the decision on what to do with it leaves a knot in my throat. We’ve known that we went to Japan prematurely before fixing some damage, and now we are paying for it double. As of now, we’ve successfully repaired most of the damage, given ugly rooms new coats of paint and are feeling hopeful again about the future.
So, we decided that we’re going back to Osaka, although just for the short span of a tourist visa. We figured that our passion for Japanese art, lifestyle and culture wasn’t worth sacrificing due to coveting an old house on a piece of land in the shadow of bad memories.
77 days in Osaka, starting January 15th.
We will be budget traveling, with an average of 4000 yen (~35 USD) a day for a couple. I’m going to challenge myself to record everyday. No matter how mundane, I want to show you how we do it.
My primary goal is to focus on my art and writing while being somewhere I love, and just letting fate lead us into the right direction.
We’re going to do our best.
Thanks for reading