• basakbalkan

Last Hours of Pre-Departitia



So here I am, finally at the airport, finally on my way to this long-dreamt destination: Tokyo. I have been reading nothing but Japanese literature for the past 2 months, I have been watching YouTube videos on ryokans, onsens, Tokyo, soba noodles, any number of things Japanese. I have attended 18 hours of Japanese language lessons. I studied as if my entrance in Japan depended on it. Serge was making fun of me, saying, do you really believe that there is an entrance exam waiting for you at Tokyo airport?, each time he heard me saying "I'm not ready, I don't speak well enough, I haven't studied enough!" He said HE felt nervous each time I had a Japanese lesson and he watched me study intensely days beforehand. And no, despite all that, I truly am not ready and no, the Japanese airport officials are NOT GOING TO LET ME IN!!!!! I must cram cram cram all these 11 hours on the plane! Or else I'll be sent right back to Belgium!

I suffered from pre-depertitia before going to Peru as well. I remember I couldn't sleep at night. Here I've been sleeping well. I feel incredibly prepared (if not linguistically). Maybe a bit too prepared. I know exactly where I will be these 3 weeks to come. But with countries like Japan, you need to get a head start. It's too immense, it's too deep, it's too much of a whole universe in itself. I can't imagine going there totally unprepared – though it would be an interesting experiment!!! But I am sure that no amount of preparation can be enough for a galaxy like Japan. I have all these preconceived ideas, no matter how open-minded I am, and I am sure each and every one will turn out to be false and I will find myself joyfully, bewilderingly lost in a whirlwind of surprise and astonishment and fascination. Some friends said they felt I was expecting too much and that I could be disappointed, but I don't think it's possible to be disappointed in such a case – how could the food disappoint? Or the forests in which I will walk? Or the temples, the neon streets, the massive metros, the art in the tea and the calligraphy and paintings and life style? I expect to find amazing contrasts, I expect to be bothered, titillated, fascinated, disgusted maybe, and yes, disappointed but in a surprising way. I expect to not want to ever leave.

I feel that something's going to happen to keep me there. I have this strange feeling. We'll see. I have rarely felt so free, so open-minded, so ready for anything and everything. It is truly the most exhilarating feeling. I am in love with my life. And I am in love with my friends (and parents of course!), who are so excited by my travels each time and say that they feel they travel with me, and who enjoy my tsunami of enthusiasm and support me throughout. I feel that, just as in Peru, I am going to remain on a big wave of gratefulness throughout my trip – if it is a trip. A trip sounds too short and frivolous. This could turn out to be something other than a trip. But then not. We'll see.


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