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I love this place, the enormous sky

New ALTs (Assistant Language Teacher; me) are coming. If this were only a canyon instead of a basin, I’d have a great Mamas & Papas quote for a title (they are all young girls). This meant my (self-imposed) duty was to e-mail and brief them on the area. It was a bit of a challenge for me. As most of you know, I’m kind of a negative son of a bitch, and I worked hard to curb my negativity to give an honest and balanced view of the area (I’m still working hard on this all the time, actually). To convey how little the bad things really matter to me (bad things are inherently more interesting than good, and are usually weighted accordingly in description and conversation).
There’s a lot of things that are less than ideal about the place (which, I increasingly realize, makes it like the rest of life). It’s important to acquaint new people with these things in time, though, to give them the chance to back out, since some really can’t take it here, and the sooner everyone knows that, the better. The negatives came pretty easy to me, but putting them in context, giving equally proportionate time to the positives, didn’t.
I do love it here. Yesterday I was driving on a ridiculously narrow road in a valley between two rice paddies when a pheasant ran across the road in front of me. I’ve never seen a wild pheasant before. I tapped the brakes and said to myself what has become my near-daily refrain:
I fucking love this place.
I was at a party tonight. We were standing by the river (the bathroom was full), and talking about the stars. They’re visible here. A partly-cloudy night here is like the clearest night I ever saw near a city in the US. I don’t know if it’s the mountains, or just weather patterns, or a deity I don’t believe in blessing the place, but any night you want to wander out of your apartment you can see stars, even in the glare of the streetlights.
Talking with one of the ALTs who is leaving soon, we discussed those mountains, the rice fields, the Japanese people. How shocking it will be to go back to life without them. I don’t think I can do it. The ALTs leaving has me thinking, and every day I think about it, I can’t imagine life without the mountains. The sky, somehow bigger for the boundaries they provide. The contrast of the green in the summer, the stencil of snow cover against grey skies in the winter (and the snowboarding).
The end of my email: “most days I am still thrilled and amazed that someone pays me to live here and have this much fun.” I wish you could scrape together the two grand to visit, or at least send the boy. I know you’d like it here, and I’ve got an extra futon.
It’s an ironic mode, apparently, but litotes is sometimes the best I can do: I’ve never been happier. (Someone’s making plans to stay?)

Filed by shaun at July 17th, 2010 under indifferenthonest

Stay long enough for B and me to throw some money together, fly over, and have you as our tour guide.

Comment by alison — 19 Jul 2010 @ 3:03 pm

Glad you’re loving it ;)

Comment by Ryan — 21 Jul 2010 @ 9:42 am

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