Thursday, May 26, 2011

Off to Nagoya

After the explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants, I became alarmed. Obviously. As did the whole world, right? Friends from every corner of the globe began to contact me to encourage me to fly home, and of course, so did family. I don't know if you could realize how strong the pull is of your mother begging you to get on the next plane out of a place shown on the news to be radioactively polluted.

But that is what happened.

My family and friends began to call and email, saying that they heard that Japan was a danger zone. However, within Japan, all news seemed to say that things were not that dangerous. Unfortunately, I am not fluent enough in Japanese to be able to read or understand Japanese news sources, so all I had to depend on was outside news.

This created a problem between Chu and I, because we were getting conflicting news updates. It caused a huge fight between us on the night after the Fukushima plants exploded. The yellow skies on the next day didn't help matters. I felt like Tokyo was a ticking time bomb, about to explode into dangerous zombie inducing air at any moment. However, from her perspective, things were bad but not at all apocalyptical.

Though, on that day, most of our close friends were already fleeing Tokyo towards foreign lands or at least more western/southern areas of Japan. I insisted that we leave the next day, but she insisted that she would stay and finish her jobs and meet up with me later. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to accept that. We already had problems that balanced on the fact that I didn't believe that she'd follow through on plans that involved our future, so when she refused to leave Tokyo, I thought that our relationship had hit our usual wall, only this time the issue in question was at the time, our lives. After a fight that left me in beers and tears, and her yelling at me in a way unlike any I had seen before, I gave up and fell asleep. The next day, she called me and said that she was ready to leave Tokyo because she thought it was too dangerous.

It wasn't until she had met up with me, and I handed her the Shinkansen ticket that she admitted that she didn't really think we should leave. She told me that she didn't believe that things were unsafe, but came with me because I was scared about not only the radiation, but also our relationship. She came because she thought this might be the final straw that might break up our relationship. I didn't say it at the time, but actually, that situation just might have done us in. Although I was later proven wrong, and it was actually safe enough to stay in Tokyo, I would have never been able to believe that she'd stand by me when I thought something was important enough to act upon, and to take a stand. This experience had exposed something about our relationship that couldn't be learned in any typical circumstance, and it is that it's strong and built on real love, the kind that you risk your job, health, and even life for.

So, we went to our friends' house in Nagoya. Lesley and Collen are awesome girls and let us stay at their humble abode. They had their own drama about the situation going on in Japan, dealing with their own families. By joining them, we could connect with others who felt the chasm between fear and the chasm between loyalty to our second home, Japan, and our family's worries. I can't express how much these ladies, as well as Chu, have done to make me feel like Japan is a good home. Lesley and Colleen are some of the best hostesses I know. The day they arrived, they took us to their famous "Chicken Shack" (since Nagoya is famous for chicken, ya know). While dining there, we felt the large 6.0 quake in Shizuoka. The next day, Colleen suggested we get outside and take a little walk around some nature rather than sticking to the TV news. What a great idea. Just getting away from noise of news and breathing some fresh air that smells of tree felt great.

After the girls left to the airport in the afternoon, we slept there for one more night before deciding that perhaps things are going to be able to be maintained in Fukushima. We woke up bright and early at 6am the next morning and took a bus home. I had taken that opportunity to shop for a bag of rice, and emergency supplies which were sold out in most Tokyo supermarkets, donating it at Second Harvest.

Despite those days being terribly worrisome, I'll admit that it was great to have a chance to visit with Colleen and Lesley, even if it was under frightening circumstances.

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