It’s April again, and I had to say another round of goodbyes. There’s another empty space now in the division. I-san has been transferred to the Tokyo office, meaning that my oldest friend here is now gone. Meaning I’m now the only one left from 2009, which is kind of weird. There was a time when I was the lowest “kohai” underling in the ranks. And now, timewise, I’m the big sempai. They aren’t going to let me near the big boss’ chair anytime soon though, of course.
But I’m heading towards the start of my fifth, and final, year as a CIR. Yes, I recontracted – and I didn’t say much about it, just like I haven’t said much about anything at all lately. I’ve been busy, and all that, but I’ve managed to blog fairly regularly during busy periods before. No, I just find myself not really being excited about writing, and not having exciting things to write about. I’m happy, tremendously so, but the funny thing is, I’m not a talented enough writer to make “happy” into something interesting.
I’m just kind of bored about writing about myself. But I think that’s okay.
Lest you think that I’m only staying around because I found a man, that is only eighty percent of the reason. I’m actually going to be working on something awesome for my last year here – something that’s going to be using all the skills I’ve gained here, and I know it’s going to be a great experience. I finally get to do something major, and I’m thrilled – I really wanted to get some more responsibility. It’s a risk, and it’s scary, but I know I’m ready for it. And yea, that’s about all the info I can give you for now.
Compared to the decision to stay a fourth year, staying a fifth year was a relative no-brainer (which many JETs say who make it Unicorn status), and there are a lot of reasons for that. But mostly, the moment I realized I might not be able to stay another year was when I was sure I wanted to. It was made clear to me from the beginning that Iwate doesn’t normally recontract CIRs for even four years. I’m a special case already, and there were a couple weeks last year when I was sure they weren’t going to give me the opportunity. For someone who was sure she was going to leave after the fourth year when she recontracted for it, I was in tears when I found out it probably wasn’t going to be a possibility. Be it from a love of Iwate, a desire not to mess up my fairly new relationship, or even just the inertia of being here for four years, the news hit me like a ton of bricks.
I remember at the time talking to I-san, wiping tears away from my face, that I didn’t know who would make the final decision, but whoever it was, I wanted them to know that I wanted to stay a final year to do all I could for Iwate. “I know. I’ll tell them,” he nodded.
A couple weeks later, my bosses suddenly took me aside for a meeting. “As you know,” the director said, “Iwate Prefecture usually only contracts CIRs for three years. You were a special case, because we thought it best to keep you seeing as the other two left last year.”
“Yes,” I said, looking down. Here it comes. My heart sank, but hey. At least they were taking me aside to tell me personally. My hands clenched into fists on top of my skirt. Brace yourself, honey.
“But,” the director continued, “this year we have some special projects going on between Iwate and America.” He looked me in the eye, hesitantly, and said, “We want you to stay and help us complete them to the best of our ability.”
“What?” I straightened up in my chair. “What, really? Of course! Yes! Leave it to me!”
So that was that. It took a combination of my experience and a whole lot of luck, but I was guaranteed a fifth year. I certainly wasn’t going to mosey off to Tokyo now.
I had hoped that I would be working on this project with I-san, the friend that had been by my side for four years now. But, 2012-2013 was his fourth year. Iwate Prefectural employees don’t usually stay in one spot for three years, let alone four. But I think I hoped that maybe, just this once, they’d grant an exception. Just like they had granted me one.
A few weeks ago we heard the results of the personnel transfer for April 2013. “I-san,” our director called him up to the front of the room. He bowed, and handed him a piece of paper with both hands.
“You’ve been transferred to…the Tokyo office.”
So, I-san, who I’m pretty sure fought for me to stay my fifth year, is the one going off to Tokyo – and I’m the one staying here. That’s just the way life is, I guess.
We’ve gone on shopping trips to Sendai, drove through the famed Corridor of Snow, done a camping trip in Akita and watched the setting sun on the west coast, drank like fish on Main Street, listened to each other’s worries and fears. There’s about 20 years between us, and two different cultures – but he always treated me, and R, and X, and everyone else as an equal.
I’m going to miss working with him a whole lot. But this was going to happen sooner or later, so all I can do is accept it with open arms. Life changes so rapidly and indiscriminately, but it’s only through that change that you can appreciate what you had, I think.
“I really did want to work on that project,” sighed I-san.
“I really wanted to work on it with you,” I agreed. “I don’t really know what I’m going to do – I’m going to have to do this with a person I don’t even know.”
“You’ll be fine,” he smiled. “All I know is that everything is going to go fine as long as you’re at the helm.”
I smiled. “Yeah, but without you, I never would have been able to come this far.”
His desk is no longer his desk now, just as K-san, and T-san, and R, and X have all left their desks to someone new.
And next year, in August, I’ll be leaving my desk too. And you know what?
It’s kind of exciting.