Several years ago, I taught English in Japan.
For two years I lived in compact apartments slotted beside green rice fields, dark jagged hills, smoky bars and neon karaoke buildings.
I enjoyed meeting colourful characters in the classroom—I taught earnest adults and children brimming with energy, but teaching was never my true love.
What ignited my fire was traveling around this new enchanted country, unwrapping the new language and culture and making friends with warm, engaging people.
I was younger then—the serene temples misty with incense didn’t call out to me then as they seem to now as a working mom.
Then, I was lured by bustling Japanese restaurants stuffed with fresh food and spirited souls. There were always nights out drinking way into the morning. I tenderly recall the Asahi beer-filled, endless roaring laughter of English teachers and chummy locals.
Last week, a friend from those times came to visit. We warmed our spirits with stories from our past lives and roared heartfelt chuckles as we sailed through shared memories.
I showed her a slice of my life as it is now.
We made new memories together—memories of converting a giant box into a log cabin for my child, exploding fireworks in parkland with my animated husband and of quietly eating a picnic together after trawling around a city museum.
She left last night bound for the opposite side of the world. I have become used to these partings from friends, have learned to be grateful for the time spent with them and accepting that we all have our own different roads to follow.
If we are lucky our paths may cross again, but if we keep looking back behind us or planning too far forward we will stumble on our own journeys.
I have to remind myself often to appreciate fully the path I am on in the moment—motherhood sometimes comes with challenges that make it easy to forget. Only today my daughter had a tantrum and clung to my leg in the queue of mothers waiting for preschool, the new dining room chairs got smothered in baked beans and I ran out of petrol with no bank cards on a motorway.
When I do remember to stop myself sometime in the day, I am rewarded with something much more beautiful than rice fields, livelier than bars at night time and more enchanting than any new language. Watching my daughter learn with excitement, being caught in a magical moment with her as she plays—this is my adventure today.
I am honoured to travel alongside her.
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Assistant Ed: Tawny Sanabria/Ed: Bryonie Wise