An “Unprepared” Day in the Life of a Photography Blogger – Day 14
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A Day in the Life of a Photography Blogger - Day 14
Today I took the day off from editing and working on my blog… Well, mostly anyway. I’m still here.
I have two weekly appointments on Thursdays, so I am up bright and early at 6. I got Tucker off to school and got myself ready to be out the door by 7:15.
One of my appointments was unexpectedly cancelled at the last minute, so when I finished my first at 8:40, I found myself with a day ahead of me and no plans. Normally, I have Wayde on Thursday, but this week I’m getting him tomorrow.
So, most of the day I just puttered around looking for some time away from the house and away from the computer. I managed to get home midday and enjoyed some down time here. So what does that leave for me to share tonight? Last’s have a flashback.
When I was in college pursuing a Business Management degree, I took a class in College Writing. It was probably a basic class… To be honest, I can’t quite remember. I do remember that I loved it! I wrote a series of essays for that class that focused on some of my experiences as an exchange student in Japan. I have saved them for years – you can see the yellowing on the original copies. Tonight I will share the first of two (that I saved) with you.
Do you remember the first time you experienced flight? Have you ever been to a foreign country? I will take you with me on my flight from America to Japan. I had planned on being an exchange student for the past four years; however, as a typical fifteen year old, I did not realize what I had gotten myself into. I was not prepared for the sudden fear of flying, the wave of homesickness, or the immediate culture shock that struck me upon arriving at my destination.
I did not expect to feel fear at the sight of the large passenger jet looming before me. I knew I would have to take a Boeing 747 on that long journey across the sea, but I had not considered it anything more than a mode of transportation. Suddenly, the sight of the neat row of tiny windows and that large red tail glinting in the January sun sent a tingle of nervous energy up and down my spine. Just then, I caught sight of our pilot walking toward the boarding gate, munching on a hot dog. Logically, I know pilots are people, but a tiny part of me argued that the man holding my life in his hands had no business eating, especially something as undignified as a hot dog! As I walked down the long corridor toward the jet, my mind flashed before me images of sinister hijackers wielding dangerous weapons, twisted, flaming wreckage, and families mourning the loss of loved ones unexpectedly taken away. I pulled my teddy bear closer for reassurance. When the announcer began calling out passenger names and boarding instructions, I knew that I must step into line to begin boarding.
Please note the date on this essay. These words were written long before the events of 09/11/2001. I never could have imagined that these words would be so prophetic when I wrote them.
Now back to "Unprepared"
As I stepped away from my family, I was forced to set my fears aside and concentrate on fighting back the feeling of homesickness beginning to wash over me. When I handed my boarding pass to the cheerful flight attendant, it dawned on me that for the next six months I would be away from my home, my family, and the life I knew so well. While taxiing down the runway, I could see my parents waving, and I was struck with the realization that I would no longer be able to reach out and hug them when I needed them.
My stomach churned when the flight attendant placed the anemic-looking pork dinner on the tray in front of me. I was shocked to realize how much I would miss my mom’s cooking! Even though I was never a fan of pork chops, no one made them like mom! I would be a long time before I could enjoy again some of the things I never even knew I would miss until that moment. Throughout the long voyage, my mind thumbed through memories ranging from the latest Mel Gibson flick to spend time with friends at the local Dairy Queen. Each precious memory reminded me of all the dear things I was leaving behind to venture to this place I knew nothing about.
When the shuttle bus dropped me off into the hubbub of the busy airport, it occurred to me that I would have to put aside the memories I had been surviving on throughout the long flight and concentrate on teh unusual sights before me. It appeared that I had not yet begun my cultural journey when I looked up at a nearby sign and was greeted by black markings that strongly resembled the ink-covered feet of a pigeon stampede. I quickly realized that I was not to be afforded the luxury of my native language.
Not knowing where to turn, I concluded that the most practical course of action would be to follow the crowd; surely all these people moving in one direction must be heading toward a specific goal, such as luggage. Even while being pushed and crowded through the busy terminal, I took notice of the smiling, bowing natives greeting family members and business associates. My eyes greedily took in all that surrounded me; I had never seen such odd behavior at home. Not until I safely retrieved my suitcase from the conveyor belt did I notice the nearby television blasting out a re-run of “Little House on the Prairie.” I stepped closer to the TV to get a better look at something from home. Imagine my surprise when I realized that good, kind Charles Ingalls had turned against me as well, as he blurted out the unfamiliar sounding words of the Japanese language!
Pulling the blankests up around my chin and snuggling into the warmth of the futon that would be mine until July, I reflected upon the long day that lay behind me and the even longer months that lay ahead. It was a struggle to make it here, but anyone who is strong enough to overcome the fear of flying, the pain of homewickness, and culture shock bigger than an electrical charge is surely strong enough to survive in this foreign land. After all, if Charles Ingalls could do it, so could I!
It is hard to believe I wrote “Unprepared” over 26 years ago and that I lived in Japan over 32 years ago. I remember the moments recalled here like they were yesterday. What really surprises me, though, is that I left out so many details in this essay. I am almost inspired to write more about those days and that journey. Maybe someday…
See ya tomorrow!