[Random] Thoughts,  Art[sy Fartsy],  Japan[ese],  Queer[ness]

endings & beginnings. 📷

it’s only been a week since i left Japan, and yet being in America for even that short a time makes Japan feel like forever ago…

…and i not so low key hate that.

the last two weeks in Japan flew by ridiculously fast, to no one’s surprise, least of all mine. countless possessions in trash bags; once loved furniture now rehomed; one last roadtrip across Kanto; goodbyes over dinner or coffee; a graduation ceremony and a farewell speech; a 181,000yen bill and sleepless night; time restraints turned guilt over goodbyes that never happened…

…too many goodbyes that never happened or continue to happen even now from afar…

touching down in Seattle, the reverse culture shock was immediate. the diversity of bodies, hair, accents; the sudden and near intrusive white noise of characteristically loud conversations between Americans; the unkempt state of washlet-less bathrooms; the unadulterated English of those who gave no thought to accommodating non-native English speakers around them…

…except i was a native English speaker, awkwardly faltering in even the most mundane verbal interactions. ugh.

thankfully Calcifer survived the flight without incident and, in fact, seems to be thriving in this new environment, needing even less time to adjust than me. yet more proof to substantiate the stereotype that sphynxes have as much in common with dogs and monkies as they do cats. then again, i suppose having a new playmate and living ‘toys’ in the form of squirrels on the other side of windows helps him make peace with living somewhere new.

can’t say i’m not enjoying the nature myself, although it’s yet another thing to adjust to after having lived in the most densely populated concrete jungle in the world.

the mental gymnastics that is being in America continues to be as difficult a week post-arrival and– as has been the case in years past– it’s the stark difference between Japan America’s economic & social class systems and poverty lines that is the most immediate and profound shock that is dealt to me upon arrival in this country, in addition to racial diversity & inequality. in addition to seeing deserted shopping malls, vacant shop fronts and other clear signs of financial hardship without all around me– something that, of course, also existed in Japan but on a different way– i’m also faced with the disparity between the quality of life that i could afford as a salaried employ in Japan vs what i will be afforded me here in America, especially considering its current economic state….

sigh.

all of that aside, so far moving to a place that i have never been to before was without a doubt the right call to make insofar as negating reverse culture shock. while i have lived in the Pacific Northwest before– in Portland, OR, during my final two years of university– coming to Washington state, a place that i had no preconceived notions of, has made an adventure out of what otherwise would have been confronting my past and i will take that over the latter any day. even if that comes with the pitfalls of having to start over from scratch + navigating additional regional / local culture shock.

coffee shop findings

more to the point of this blog, i’ve been pleasantly surprised to have found what i have already even in the small (imho) town that i’m currently in an hour north of Seattle. regardless of how “progressive” or “liberal” the NW is considered to be (and considers itself to be), my time in Portland taught me to not believe anything until i see it… and what i’ve seen thus far of the Seattle area, even if only minimal & superficial, has me inclined to be more optimistic than Portland…

a trip to Capitol Hill, Seattle’s unofficial ‘gay neighborhood’, for a Trans Day of Visibility event at GenPRIDE (a resource center for Seattle’s aging LGBTQIA community) hammered home just how amazing having community(/ies) and resources can be, especially in light of the fact that there are still so many places where people have neither of those things…

while i have no doubt that things are still far from perfect in Seattle, seeing QTPOC activists talk about their activism on a TDOV panel, hearing about the city’s Enby Collective, seeing programming that’s in the works for kindergarten – 12th grade students, being in a physical space with resources and community for LGBTQIA seniors, etc– was a much needed reminder that even as there is no shortage of places in America where none of this exists and something as “”simple“” as being who you are unabashedly can be difficult, there are also places like Seattle.

and Japan. fucking Japan.

the window of a bank, Capitol Hill

much more so than reverse culture shock, which was to be expected, i’m now keenly aware of the unexpected growing anger(??) and frustration(??) that i feel over just how shitty things are in Japan. it’s jarring, only now becoming keenly aware of just how much Japan does not have in retrospect of living there, having never sought out queer resources or community prior to living in Japan, as my own need for it was unknown even to me until relatively recently.

Tokyo’s Ni Chome, ie. ‘gay district’, in comparison with Seattle’s Capitol Hill isn’t even comedic in so much as it’s incredibly sobering… even if i have only the most superficial of understanding of what exists in the Seattle area at present, it’s still abundantly clear to me that…

that anger and frustration over the brutality of the disparity between LGBTQIA resources & communities could– just maybe– be transformed into inspiration and motivation to try and actively do something about it…

…eventually.

if i play things just right, maybe.

hmm…

YouTuber and Blogger, Vesper is an American expat currently living in Japan.

One Comment

  • Rachel

    Hi Vesper,

    Sporadic lurker and first time poster here. I know this reply is late in coming, but I enjoyed reading this. I’ve never lived internationally, but as someone who has moved multiple times across the U.S. since the beginning of 2018, I definitely relate to reverse culture shock (moving from Boston where I did grad school *back* to the Bible Belt was a weird jump to say the least). And since I’m now job hunting for the 2nd time (and had to move again as a result) since leaving grad school, reading your contrast on the economic realities of America vs Japan really hit home. I also connect with, in an inverted sort of way, your discontent with the lack of LGBTQ+ resources in Japan and their comparative abundance in certain parts of the States (for clarity, I first discovered that I was aro ace while in the loudly LGBTQ-friendly Boston… only to have to move back to the South).

    But I’m glad that you are settling into a place where your prospects are (if I am reading this correctly) looking hopeful.

    So, welcome back to America (however little that may be worth).

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