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07 September 2012 @ 03:59 am
to start a meal, you say 'i-ta-da-ki-mas' in Japanese  
I've always liked the way ittadakimas (いただきます) sounds. It's a pretty word. Just like there's so much in this country that is pretty, even when its crowded and hot and stuffy. Cute kids, everywhere. You've never seen such cute kids.

So, looks like housemate crisis number one is averted. Although she was taking the hard line verbally, she apparently is willing to meet halfway, and so isn't going to send my life into a tailspin by trying to get out of our rental contract or anything. Yay. I'm sure I'll have more amusing tales on that front for the future, but for now things are fairly even steven - we even went to the 100en (pronounced hyaku-en) (the Japanese equivalent of the dollar store) today to buy home goods of a variety simply not found in most of your usual US dollar stores. It was reasonably fun.

I feel like I ought to start at the beginning, though, of this journey. And to do that I really have to start at the end - saying goodbye to Los Angeles in the last month or so has been a process I didn't know I was going through until I'd almost completed it. I started at the beginning of the summer, I suppose, I truly knew leaving was on the horizon, and even when I couldn't conceptualize being gone for a year (or 10 months, truly, but a year from LA - more on that later) I could understand what it mean to say goodbye. Strangely saying goodbye in the first form was feeling prenostalgic as I walked through the neighborhood in the evenings with the dog; looking fondly at houses I'd passed every day for the past two years, thinking how much might change with those that have obviously been getting renovated, how high some of the plants will be when I get back, and wondering which of the neighbors will notice my long absence. It was a very physical thing to say goodbye to a neighborhood that I've inhabited in a very different way than any other I've lived in. When I was little, I knew the houses next to us on our street the way a little kid does - looming in the perhiphery. When mom and I moved to our small mountain town I knew shopkeepers and store owners as friends. When I was in middleschool my neighbors were the manzanita bushes that covered our twenty-one acres, and while I played in them I didn't necessarily feel like I was saying goodbye when we moved onto the top of the mountain (and out of the valley) - it was just that I looked over them instead of walked under them). When I moved to Santa Cruz my neighbors were other students - simultaneously selfless and selfinvolved and our sense of space I think depended not on the space itself but on the events, thing emotions, that inhabited it - who was dating who, learning this, smoking that, you know? When I moved to LA neighborhood became a place that held friends who came to *our* apartment, and then a wider web of restaurants and shops, things to do and places to do them at, places where the sense of belonging and ownership came from the money we spent there to rent the table for the space of a dinner. Austin, for me, before getting the dog, was about being in the car - always trying to go somewhere else that wasn't in the neighborhood.

Then I got this dog, and she gave me this way of traveling that I just *hadn't* been using, and made demands on that form of travel that couldn't be escaped. An hour a day I conformed to her needs, sought out roads with less traffic, looked for long stretches of interesting grass, and felt the pavement through my shoes in a way that I simply hadn't looked for before.

And that's what she gave me when we moved into my little place in Los Feliz - a sense of neighborhood that wasn't about spending money in it, that wasn't about commerce, wasn't about social drama, wasn't about much except for quiet streets, avoiding barking dogs, and stretches of good grass to roll around in, with a trip up the hills a couple of times a week to appreciate the view.

I said any hello had to start with goodbye, and I meant it. And my first goodbyes in the city I live in was to the city I've mapped out with my own two feet (accompanied by my four legged accomplice). After that, for some reason, the good byes to the people I love who live in that city didn't seem so difficult to do - they seemed, instead, to be awesome.

Which is why I let my awesome housemate help talk me into inviting my friends out dancing, even though it was on one of the nights when my mom was going to be in town picking up the puppy. We did some tequila shots at the house, piled into one car, found heavenly parking, and then literally danced our booties off (or our muscles into submission, or something). I think people need to dance. Whether it's the dancing in your room, or dancing in the car, or going to a club that blows your ears out even when you're not standing near the speakers, turns your dress into a sweaty stinky thing at the end of the night, your shoes into weird water/booze soaked leather, and your smile into a grin, dancing is good for the soul.

And why I went over to my other friend's house for the last monthly cocktails night I'm going to attend for a while, and got to sit and talk with them just a little bit longer before I hopped on a plane. And why I went to spend my last night in the city with my other girlfriend M before getting dropped off at the airport shuttle - this is the third time I think I've left for Japan that way, and even though it was a rocky time for her (she had to take one of her dogs into the vet the night I spent over, and found out the next day that she had to put her to sleep - long story, but not a terrible surprise and the wisest decision to let her go), it still was good to be able to be there for her, even just a little bit, before I flew off for places known.

that, my friends, is how I went off for Japan. there's more to this story, but that's enough for one night, I think.

also posted to dreamwidth | you can reply here or there | um, but don't worry, i'm still an lj girl