Friday, June 21, 2013


“The girl does what she wants to do.
She knows what she wants to do.
And I know I'm fakin' it,
I'm not really makin' it.”
- Simon and Garfunkel, “Fakin' It”


Apparently I've moved to Mayberry.  There's no fakin' it in Mayberry.


I love the anonymity a city gives you, where you can sit down and disappear into the background, free to observe while remaining unseen. Invisibility is the comforting cloak of anxiety.

Twenty-five miles (40 km) outside Tokyo seems more outer urban to me than rural, but it is commonly seen as “country” to locals. Three train stations up is the last stop outside Tokyo. In this outlying city sits an even smaller area, a ward of sorts, to use a local term, home to a small American population. Those living here describe it akin to Mayberry, hence I shall refer to it as Mayberry-ku.

Within our first few days here I found myself recognizing people while out walking, which is unnerving for someone who wishes to remain anonymous. In my previous residences it usually took a couple years, if not more, to bump into someone I knew while running about town, a time frame which still made me a bit uncomfortable. Now, reaching our two-week mark here, I've already met more people than I ever did in Texas (excluding co-workers) and I'm standing on week social knees.

Socializing : Comfort :: Anxiety : Calm

“Socializing” and “comfort” are two very dissimilar words in my world that I must make peace with. The one thing unhappy people in Mayberry-ku have in common is that they don't go out, see places and meet people. My time in Japan has an expiration date and I will not sit in the fridge and rot. The written word is comfortable because it provides a safe barrier. In Mayberry-ku I cannot shelter myself with typewritten words. Well, I can, but I am attempting to chose not to.

Before moving here I emailed a local blogger a short (but heavily proof-read), “I'm reading your blog, thank you for sharing, I might be moving there,” sort of message. She wrote back and establishing this small written connection was strangely comforting. A few days ago we met in person, a very high-ranking event on my anxiety-o-meter. She was friendly and talkative, which put me at ease enough to hold up my end of the conversation, although it takes more time to really soften my guard this was a positive step forward.

She introduced me to the train and helped me get my Pasmo card – my plastic ticket to Tokyo and beyond. We went a few stations up, to a city on metro Tokyo's edge, had noodles for lunch and walked around the shops, all the while learning tidbits of knowledge she's gathered during her adventures here. When we returned I felt as if I'd traveled light-years to an exotic land in only the span of a few hours. Like a child's short first step, the distance wasn't far but the experience was huge. I am very thankful.

Most experiences in this country are new to me and will be uncomfortable, not only the cultural ones outside the gate but the social ones inside. I will feel awkward, I will perform the wrong movement, I will choose the wrong words and I will say them incorrectly.  The perfectionist in me who tries polishing away my flaws, almost stripping away the authentic layers, must stand down and allow these mistakes to happen. That feeling of fakin' it? I'll just have to shake it and be the girl who does what she wants to do.

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