The Final, Final Farewell

So, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been transferred to new schools, which is sad because my school-until-today has been awesome.

The goodbyes, though, they just seem to go on and on. Yesterday, the final FINAL farewell happened.

First, popped in to school in the morning. Got a present of a big blanket and a seat cushion from the English teachers, because the town my new schools are in is apparently rather quite a lot colder than where I have been. Also, they are old schools, so no reliable heating system. I appreciated that. Got a bunch of “I’m leaving too!” farewell sweets (I’d distributed mine a week earlier).

There was a bit of a do in the staffroom where the principal (he’s retiring, so was the leader of our leavers’ group) gave a bit of a farewell speech on our behalves. We were each presented with flowers. (This was the second “you’re leaving us” bouquet in 8 days for me, and the third separation-bouquet since March 8.)

When, students and remaining teachers saw us off while the band played “Time to Say Goodbye”.

Then the farewell party happened in the evening. There, we got pamphlets in which each of the leavers had written messages to the other teachers (above and beyond the message we conveyed in our goodbye speeches last Friday). Then, we had to get on stage, and they gave us each 1) more flowers, this time two big potted plants 2) monetary gift to cover the money we’d paid for the farewell party 3) our “graduation report card”, which had messages to us from the teachers were weren’t leaving. Also a bag of shiitake mushrooms?

Then we had to give ANOTHER farewell speech. By this time, I was running out of things to say. In the message in the pamphlet, because people would be reading that on their own time, I was able to say some of the things I posted about previously, so that was nice. But now what to do? I was caught a little unprepared for this, and so ended up rambling in something like unto the following (but in Japanese).

I came here in 2004. I taught at a JHS in Toyama for 5 years. After that time, I had to move on, it was the way the system worked. A sixth year was impossible. For me, parting has always been easy. When I came to Japan, it wasn’t a difficult thing. I was a little sad, and I was very nervous, but it was okay. This was a new story that I had to start, and so parting with friends in Canada and coming here was fine. After five years in Toyama, it was the same sort of thing. I wasn’t happy to leave Toyama, but it wasn’t particularly sad, either. Though I had strong bonds (here I brought out the 絆) there, five years is a long time, and I had accomplished what I could, and that story was over. It was time to write “The End”, and start on the next story. So parting then wasn’t difficult.

The next time I had to part ways was in March 2011. This parting wasn’t entirely difficult either. I had been at six elementary schools, so being someplace different every day, having no downtime or chances to socialize, I didn’t have very strong bonds to those places.  Additionally, I had just turned 30. On top of that, the Great East Japan Disaster had just happened. This time, it wasn’t so much, “This story is over”, but rather “A new era is beginning.” (時代が変わった). And when eras change, there are partings. It wasn’t difficult. It made sense.

So yes, for me, usually, parting is easy. But this time… it’s different.  I don’t know if it’s because I was changed by the Disaster, or if it’s just because everyone at this school, teachers and students, were so great to me, but I feel a very strong bond to this place, to you all. It makes parting difficult.  Furthermore, I’ve only been here a year. This story, I don’t feel it’s over yet. It’s like going to a movie, and half way through saying, “Wow, this is the best movie ever! Okay I’m going home,” despite it not being finished. So yeah, this time… parting is difficult.

Then I started rambling REALLY aimlessly, caught myself, and ended with a thank you for a great a year. Too bad I didn’t have an end for it, I was pretty happy with how it came out unprepared otherwise.

After dinner and whatnot, we went to the second party, but due to my having to catch the last train (which is hyperearly in the inaka), I could only stay for half an hour. The final, final, final farewell, was a couple of teachers asking me if I would be able to manage my mushrooms and potted plants and ALL THE THINGS on the train. I assured them that I’d do my best, and bid them a drunken goodbye.

I still didn’t cry. I welled up when trying to come up with a speech in the moments before I went on stage to give it, but that was more panic and nerves than anything. As I said last time, I must have gotten all that out on my final drives to school the last week.

So that’s it. It’s over. That story has ended in the middle of an act, and no author could possibly be happy about that. Who allowed this to be published? I want to lodge a complaint. I want my money back for this book without a proper ending.

I have beat all the life out of that metaphor. And now I am rambling again, much like I was at the end of my speech last night.

So, thank you for a great year. Take care of yourselves. Until the day we can meet again here, goodbye.