Japan · Life · Mental Health

The office…

Note: This is very long.

One of the worst things about not having air conditioning  in our house (besides the stifling heat) is that we’re surrounded by smokers, so while they smoke outside, the smoke drifts into our open doors and windows.  It’s quite nasty.

On another note, do you know even sofas from IKEA have to be assembled?  Fucking hell.  Why did I think we’d catch a break there?  It’s currently sitting in the box waiting to be assembled mostly by the prince on Saturday.  We made a weekend plan which consists of assembling IKEA furniture on Saturday and going back there on Sunday.  Some day, I suppose, we’ll get to explore our new city.  Today, I’m taking it easy because my shoulder really hurts from yesterday’s construction of 5 pieces of furniture.

Often I slip into bad bouts of depression because even though I try to control it, it’ll always be there.  The prince likes to try to fix things (he’s a fixer), so after we first started living together, he would often try to give me advice to attempt to solve my depression.  Advice was the last thing I wanted or needed.  Sometimes, I only wanted something as simple as a hug and other times I couldn’t put into words what I needed.  So I taught him to ask these kinds of questions:

What can I do?
How can I help?
What will make you feel better?

When Motoki was absent because of his depression, I asked my boss many times if he’d messaged Motoki.  He always said no.  That’s not the Japanese way, you see.  In Japan, it’s best to ignore these things.  We mustn’t acknowledge their presence.  Keep them hidden, out of the public eye.  Because I am not Japanese, I think this is a horrible way of dealing with serious mental health problems that plague the country to the point of an alarming number of suicides.

I can’t remember when Motoki took a leave.  Maybe it was April or May but it was soon after the start of the fiscal year.  I often asked about Motoki but I never messaged him myself.  The things I had taught my husband to do, I didn’t do for someone else who was suffering.  When Makoto (Motoki’s replacement) and I hung out over summer, she said she’d be staying on the remainder of the year and so I thought that Motoki wouldn’t be returning.  (He told me later he didn’t think he could come back and thought about getting another job.)  I resolved to message him in September, but that was when he returned to work.  My effort was too little too late.  However, Motoki is a kind soul, and he said I shouldn’t worry about it.  That messages made him happy but also pained him as he struggled what to write and how to respond.  I know that feeling well.

I know you’ve read about Motoki before, but I want to rewind.  (I wish I’d been keeping a blog since the old Myspace blogs wrapped up in 2009 because blogging is really cathartic for me.)

When I started my job in 2014 at the (anonymous) office, it was a really quiet place.  There was one main office with a pool of desks (maybe 50 or so), and then our office was in another building.  It had 6 desks.  Four desks were occupied: by Motoki, my boss, one other guy who wasn’t in the office much, and me.  At that time, I enjoyed my job.  It wasn’t very difficult.  I was new and eager to make my mark there.  Best of all, there were times it was just Motoki and me in the office as we had most of the same break times.  This is how I came to know Motoki as that person who was always happy to talk (especially at lunch time) with me about any subject: serious or silly.  He laughed at my weird sense of humor, and we shared many happy times in that office.  We bonded.  In 2015, things changed.  My schedule (and everyone else’s) was much busier.  The old guy was replaced by a loquacious British guy with a sense of humor as dry as the Sahara, and Nemesis moved into our office.  Only one desk was empty.  I was frazzled and often upset and things didn’t run as smoothly as the previous year.  Motoki became a ghost.  He was running in and out of the office.  At lunch time, he worked straight through.  Our talks became few and far between.  I often teased him about this, but I did that to cover the fact that I was hurt.  I missed him.  I missed our talks.  However, he was still always on my side especially when I went head to head with Nemesis and the inexperience she brought to the job (this was before the Great AC Fiasco of 2016).  When 2016 started Motoki was run ragged and my frankness about his demeanor pushed him to take a leave.  When Motoki left, he was (temporarily) replaced by Makoto.  I loved working with Makoto and in my opinion, she was the only person who could replace him at work (as he could never be replaced as a person).  Makoto and I bonded quickly.  She loved AC and she was a fun and happy person, but she could be very practical and serious about certain things.  We would talk, and this made the pain of Motoki’s absence more bearable.  However, with Motoki gone, Nemesis became the dominant force in the office and often wanted everyone else to accommodate her.  This made for a tense working environment as I couldn’t bear her selfishness.  Then Motoki returned and all was right with the world.  When I saw him sitting in his old desk again, I gleefully screamed さしぶり! (which means long time no see) and gave him the biggest hug I could give someone without killing them.  He later told me that my welcome was the best.  It was definitely the least Japanese way to welcome someone back to work that’s for sure.  Perhaps that’s why it made him so happy because it was unlike anyone else’s welcome back.  However, this moment of joy wouldn’t last very long because I carried with me the knowledge that I would be leaving (which my boss had already told everyone prior to my return from vacation).

Motoki: I heard something, but maybe it’s not true, that you were leaving.  But it’s not true right?

Me: Sadly, it’s true

And my heart broke right there.  All this time I had been secretly squeeing with joy.  HA HA!  In your face OFFICE!  SUCK IT!  I’m leaving!  I was too wrapped up in myself and my preserving my sanity, I didn’t think how my departure might affect other people.  Now I know I didn’t have a choice.  I often told the prince that had I had a choice, I would have chosen to stay in our old city and long-suffering job.  Do you know Endymion told me that I could stay behind?  (Wouldn’t that be the epitome of moon princess and Earth prince?)  It’s actually very common in Japan for a wife and husband to live in different cities.  I had to remind him that I am not Japanese, and I love him.  He’s my family, so I go where he goes.  I don’t think even surrounded by the happiness my friends bring that I would be happier there without him.  Motoki said that there’s been an emptiness since I left.  He said that in the future no one would bring to the office what I did.  Unusual things that consisted of looking up everyone’s zodiac sign, reading about the characteristics of each, and singing Oasis.  He said that they have to get on without me but they can do that together.  For me, I have to get on alone.  We both agreed that it’s more difficult on my end.  He said he’d ask the big boss to make a branch in my new city, so we could work together again.

“You’d come here?” I said.

“I’d love to!”

How many times can I cry in one conversation?  The answer is many…many…many.

I am troubled right now, of course, brokenhearted.  However, I know that this world is full of beautiful, kind, and loving people.  I am so very fortunate in my short time in Japan to have crossed paths with some of the best of the best.  Japan brought me to Naru, Minako, Makoto, Artemis, and Motoki.  These people I would never had known had I never come here.  (I hope my new city will bring me more people to cherish.)  I must force myself to think of my circumstance as a blessing and not a curse.  A blessing that I got to leave the job that was troubling me so.  A blessing that even though I don’t get to see people who I am lucky to call my friends, I can still talk to them via the magic of the internet.  I think that’s the best I can hope for at this time.  My mom summed it up perfectly.  She said it’s a mixed blessing.  I think that’s where I’ll end this for today.

Princess Serenity

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