Well, some big changes. I wish I posted here more often, but when I don’t have a desk job with Internet access, it’s a lot harder to spend my free time at home writing long entries like I used to. Anyway, updates. First, I forgot to say I took the JLPT N2 in December – and I passed! Yesssssss. It feels really good, especially after I failed 2級 in 2009. I was a little worried, especially after the listening part which kind of steamrolled me, but it all turned out fine in the end. Yay! I’m still studying N1 but I have a ways to go. I thought I might take it in July, but now I think I’ll take it in December which gives me the whole year to study.
Second, moving to Tokyo. I started job hunting for that in January, registering on job listing websites, creating Japanese resumes (and getting them proofread by M-sensei from the summer program! Yeah! He did a great job), applying to jobs. I had a Japanese phone interview with a recruiter who had several positions I could apply to, and she submitted me for all of them and I got an interview for one. The company agreed to a Skype interview and that was scheduled and set up, until I looked closer (stupidly, I had not paid enough attention to the job description before – I was too excited at the prospect and thinking “Anything is good!”) and realized it would be an HR position. Specifically, I would be organizing training programs for the global staff that would be held at the Tokyo branch of an international company. I’ve never done anything like that before and am not interested in it. I decided the interview would be a waste of time because I don’t want the job (it was still January, no need to get desperate quite yet) and emailed the recruiter to cancel it. She called me and we talked in English as she tried to convince me to keep the interview. I continued to politely decline and explained my reasons. She ended things by basically implying this was the best chance I was ever going to get in my Tokyo job hunt, and she told me to keep studying Japanese. It left a very bad taste in my mouth, but I still knew I’d made the right decision.
I continued to apply to things, basically any writing/editing/translating/localizing-related job. I got another interview, but once I reminded them I did not have immediate availability, they canceled it. I had completed a writing screen for one company but hadn’t heard back; I followed up to say that I understood if I’d been eliminated but that I was very interested in the job and would like a chance to prove that. After that, they offered me an interview in Tokyo and I decided to take a Friday off work and make the trip. I had also been in contact with a temp/temp-to-hire recruiting agency that was always posting listings I was interested in, but they had told me they wouldn’t be able to consider me for the jobs until I was living in the area. I made an appointment with them to come in that same weekend and do the preliminary tests and paperwork so that as soon as I had moved to the area, they could start putting me forward for those jobs. I was communicating with the representatives of both of these companies in English, which was nice.
That weekend in Tokyo (February 22-24) was pretty amazing. I got there via overnight bus, which sucked because the bus didn’t have a bathroom so it stopped every hour, even in the middle of the night when everyone was trying to sleep, but at least it was cheap. I got in Friday morning and went to the apartment of one of my hometown friends that I’ve known for many years, who now lives in Tokyo and works for Microsoft. He was going out of town that weekend and let me stay at his apartment that first night (I could have stayed there all weekend, but I moved to another friend’s place for Saturday night). We chatted for a little bit until he left for work, then I took a shower and got ready for my interview. I went to have lunch in Shibuya at the limited-time xxxHOLiC-themed café, which was pretty great. I got a nonalcoholic cocktail entitled “Yuuko,” and I got a fondant au chocolat dessert just like Watanuki made in the manga! Ordering those meant I got two coasters with xxxHOLiC manga illustrations on them – one for me and one for Kirk!
After that I made my way to Shinjuku for my interview. The interview was at 2:00, and then I had an appointment at 4:00 at the temp agency. Well, I never ended up making it to that, because I didn’t leave the first place until 5:30, and that was only because I had to go meet my old host mom and sister for dinner! Meaning: The interview went very, very, very well, beyond my wildest dreams or expectations. It’s a company that works with Japanese scientists/researchers/doctors who want their work to be published in English but need a little help getting the text ready for global publication, so this company has a team of native English speakers who are the rewriters/proofreaders/editors/translators, as well as a Japanese staff who work with the scientists. First I met with the head of the rewriters’ department, a man who I believe is Canadian. We talked a lot about my previous experience as an editor, delving deep in my duties and responsibilities there. No typical “What are your strengths/weaknesses?” questions, which I hate anyway. After that, I met with the company owner, an American. Then the rewriters’ department head came back and we all talked. Things ended with the company owner printing out a contract template and going over benefits with me! When I said I had to go, we agreed to talk more the next day.
Basically, they were very interested in me primarily for my writing experience/abilities, and they also liked my Japanese proficiency. The one thing they were unsure about was my complete lack of a science background. If they hired me I would be the first rewriter they hired without one; understandably, they were concerned about that risk. They were also concerned that I wouldn’t be interested in this kind of work; they wanted to make sure it would be a good fit from both sides. From my side, I said I’d be willing to brush up on my science in order to be a good member of the team, and that while this is a more specialized/technical job than I’m used to, I’d like that kind of experience because I’d like to diversify more and do work that will translate more to opportunities back home for when I move back to the US.
After that, I rushed back to my friend’s apartment to change clothes and then immediately rush back out (forgetting the omiyage I had gotten!) to meet my old host mom and sister (who live in Chiba) at Tokyo Station for dinner. Fortunately I made it on time and even managed to find our meeting place fairly easily, which is good considering how much of a gigantic maze that place can be. We had dinner at a place specializing in Chinese fried rice and it was delicious! My host sister, now a first-year in middle school (American junior high 7th grade), was pretty quiet, like she was the last time we met back in August (I first met this family in 2006 when she was a talkative kindergartener, so it’s kind of a change!), so I mostly chatted in Japanese with my host mom and let her in on my plans from now on. When she found out I would be leaving my current city on the 22nd and that we have a very famous, important shrine in Japan nearby, she decided she would take the night bus and come visit me for a day trip the first weekend in March. After dinner we said goodbye and I went back to my friend’s place, vibrating with excitement about how well the day had gone. I did feel bad that I had ended up completely blowing off the temp agency though…
The next day I went to go view a sharehouse I had researched located a little outside of central Tokyo. It wasn’t a bad location, but if I were to commute to the company in Shinjuku from it, it would require a transfer and take about 30-40 minutes on two busy train lines. The available rooms were also pretty small and the kitchen was a mess. After that, I went to Shinjuku to meet a Japanese Ringo Shiina fan, a married man in his 40s who’s fluent in English and has graciously been acting as my translation consultant for a few years now. I’ll send him my translation of a Ringo song and he’ll make corrections and comments as needed. He’s able to notice a lot of details I completely miss and in the end it makes the translation so much better and more accurate. I also ask him about lines here and there in my translations of other artists. He also works in publishing, very similar to the work done by the company in Shinjuku, so that’s nice. He took me out to lunch and then we walked around places referenced in Ringo songs, mainly Shinjuku’s Kabuki-cho (including Hanazono Shrine and Golden-gai). It was very nice!
After that, I went back to my friend’s place and packed up my stuff to move to my other friend’s apartment. I also called the company, since I hadn’t heard from them about meeting again today, and since it turned out our schedules weren’t going to align, I just talked on the phone with the company owner. He went over a lot of things again with me and told me “I’m going to give you a contract, but you need to understand that because of your lack of science background, things might not work out and we might have to let you go after a few months, but we know you have a support network and will probably land on your feet. But we’re still very optimistic about hiring you because we really like the potential you represent” although he did also say that there was a chance that they could discuss things further next week and end up deciding not to hire me.
So I made my way from Gotanda to Harajuku Station and met Will outside it, then we walked through the park to his apartment. Will is a classmate I’ve known since Japanese 101 at my college, an economics geek who works for a major financial investment company and ended up living in Tokyo kind of by chance, and I stayed at his and his Japanese girlfriend’s extremely nice place in Yoyogi-koen my first night in Tokyo in August, so it was good to get to see him again. After we got to his place we just relaxed and chatted about people we knew, then at dinnertime we went out to a Mexican place in Hiro-o, La Jolla. I got a cassis margarita, taquitos, and chips and salsa. Overall, it wasn’t bad and definitely satisfied my Mexican food craving, although the margarita was pretty weak (but I had to try the cassis flavor – so Japanese!). We also had a great time chatting and reminiscing. After dinner we went to Omotesando for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and walked around the area – it was interesting to see how it had changed since 2006! I also found out that Will and his girlfriend had gotten legally married the week before, though they’re still planning a formal ceremony and reception! Big surprise, but really great for them and I’m looking forward to their wedding! We got back and his girlfriend (wife!) was home and they went out for wine while I took a shower.
The next morning, I needed to go to a major JR station to buy discount bullet train tickets from Tokyo to Kyoto (for Kirk’s first-ever visit to Japan at the end of this month! I am so excited!), but I woke up with some time to spare (I could buy the tickets starting at 10), so I walked from Will’s place to Meiji Shrine, which is a place I had wanted to visit for most of my time studying abroad fall 2006, and I had tried to go on my very last day in Tokyo, only to arrive just as the gates were closing for the day! It was sooooo frustrating. But this time I was finally able to go and I had a lovely time. I love how it’s located in a forest and you have to walk for a while along a trail to get to the shrine itself. As usual, there was a wedding going on, so that was cool to get to see. Then it was time to go to Shinjuku Station to buy the tickets, which was fortunately a success, and then I went back to Yoyogi-koen area to meet Will, his now-wife, HH (the resident native speaker for the Japanese wing of the language house when I lived in it 2005-2006), and Bran (a fellow alumni of my college a year behind me who also lived in the Japanese house and did the same study abroad program I did, lived in [D City] like me after graduation and occasionally volunteered with that city’s Japan-America Society like I did and I’d see him at events for that, and now works in Tokyo). We got brunch and it was soooooooooooo great – pancakes!!!! Mmmmmmm, another craving satisfied. After that we walked around the area and ended up at Shibuya Station where we said goodbye.
I went to go view another sharehouse, and unfortunately while I had been really excited about this one it turned out to be a pretty big disappointment. I had already realized the location wasn’t great (the closest station is on an inconvenient line, and while there’s a bigger station in the vicinity as well, it took some time even by driving so it wouldn’t be possible to get to it on foot and it would be a pain by bicycle), but there were so many other problems too. The neighborhood/scenery, from the station to the sharehouse, was just really bad. Not unsafe, but just extremely rundown and old – didn’t look good at all. Kind of industrial; an eyesore really. Then we got to the sharehouse itself, and the area around it was just super ugly. Inside wasn’t too bad; there’s a nice big hallway and the women-only bathroom and shower area is pretty nice. I liked that it had dryers in addition to washing machines too, and multiple showers and toilets. All the rooms are Japanese-style, which I was initially excited about but then realized that at this price point and location, that meant ratty tatami, which was unfortunately the case. I was also excited that every room came with a fridge and mini-kitchen area, but the cupboards were pretty worn-out. It just wasn’t a good vibe and I couldn’t imagine myself living there at all. I felt kind of bad because the agent knew I had been excited about this place and probably picked up on my change in attitude and disappointed air on the ride back to the office. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. No, no, no.
For most of the week following my return to Tokyo I was on pins and needles anticipating the company’s final decision. On Monday the rewriting department head had emailed to ask me my desired start date, but I still didn’t want to assume anything was set because they just said they were “considering” me for a full-time position. Finally, on Thursday, I was asked for my address so they could mail me a contract!!! I’ve now received, signed, and returned the contract so everything is basically arranged and I’ll start April 2, the day after Kirk leaves. I’m so excited but also really worried about the science thing. I just don’t really know where to start on brushing up on stuff and I also don’t have a lot of free time since I’m preparing to end one job (and things are currently a little hectic with graduation), getting ready to move (and finding a new place to live), getting my documents together to change my visa status from “Instructor” to “Specialist in Humanities,” AND planning Kirk’s visit and getting as much of that finalized as I can so we can just enjoy our time together. I don’t know why I always seem to have a million things going on in my life, or why it’s like I can’t be happy unless I have a bunch of future plans on the horizon in every area of my life, but I’d really like it if at least for the next year in Tokyo things could calm down and I could enjoy my life as it is without stressing about the next stage.
I did already find my next place to live, which I’m excited about even though I couldn’t visit it in person so I really really hope I like the atmosphere, but I’ve scrutinized the photos and the information and I thiiiiink I will. It’s a sharehouse with six rooms, two on the ground floor with the kitchen and common living area and bathroom/shower/laundry, and four on the women-only second floor. I have one of the second-floor rooms, and it’s pretty small at 4.5 mats but it has a bed, desk, and chair and hopefully it won’t feel too cramped. I wanted it mostly because the location is really good – within the Yamanote loop and equidistant between Harajuku, Omotesando, and Sendagaya stations (10 minutes on foot), with a few others (like Shibuya) a little farther away. It’s within 30 minutes’ walking distance of work, or I can walk, take the train one stop, and walk again, or take a bus (though I haven’t researched that yet), or ride a bike (though I’m not sure how easy it would be to navigate a bike on Tokyo sidewalks/streets – and I don’t know where I would park the bike at the office either). It’s also close to Meiji-jingu Stadium which I believe has a running track where I could go jogging. I do wish I could have visited it in person and I just hope I won’t hate it. I also hope I’ll get along with the other residents. The reason I wanted to live in a sharehouse over an apartment of my own is because I really hate living alone and much prefer the feeling that I’m coming home to other people, ideally ones I can talk to about my day and laugh and have fun with. I had to pay about $2,000 to reserve my place, which was a good chunk of my bank account, but at least that also means I’m covered in rent and utilities through the end of April (and have also knocked out all the yearly fees and stuff). I’m planning to move out of my apartment March 22, take the night bus to Tokyo, arrive March 23, and move in that day and await the things I’ll have sent on ahead using a courier service (which will be my giant suitcase, my futon set, and I’m hoping just one cardboard box of miscellaneous items). That night, Kirk arrives and we begin traveling around Japan together.
I also bought an iPhone, which was another ordeal. I had told myself if I got this job I would go ahead and splurge for it, and I also realized it will make so much of Kirk’s visit/trip easier if we can just look up directions to places and nearby restaurants at any time. When I got to Japan I signed a contract with au, one of the major carriers here, and just got a white flip phone that came free with the contract, because I wanted to save money. Now I realize maybe I should have just gotten an iPhone from the start, but at least doing it this way means I got an iPhone 5. Anyway, one of my friends here told me if I switched to another carrier I might get a better deal, and after visiting the stores for both my carrier and its competitor that did turn out to be the case, so I decided to switch carriers. It took foooooooreverrrrrrrrrrr and I really wasn’t sure if my language abilities were up to all the phone/contract vocabulary, and I did end up learning quite a few words (notably the word for the phone itself, 機種台 kishudai) or at least cementing previous knowledge by placing it in context (like 電話帳 denwa-chou, phonebook/contacts), but overall I got through it and hopefully made a good decision. Because my visa length on my resident card is less than the length of a typical contract (two years), I was declined for the option of paying for the phone cost in monthly installments, and had to withdraw $500 (ouch) from my American bank account (seeing as how I had already shelled out $2000 for the sharehouse place) to pay for it outright. So at least I own it now, but when I consider that it will be impossible to use this phone at home in the US, it doesn’t comfort me very much. I’m going to have to try and get as much use out of it in a year as I can! Also, I was able to get a free iPad mini for switching carriers, though they had to order it and I don’t have it yet. Anyway, needless to say, owning an iPhone is pretty great so far and I’m having a lot of fun getting everything for it set up. I think it’s going to be very convenient to finally be able to look anything up no matter when or where. Mine is white and I got it a sparkly clear case which looks great and has a thing on the side for my straps.
I’m not the only one of the ALTs in my area who is leaving at the end of this school year/contract. Five other people are also leaving this city: two are returning home to the US, two are transferring to Kanagawa prefecture, and one is transferring to somewhere south of here, whether Hiroshima area or Shikoku island. Fortunately, the two transferring to Kanagawa prefecture (which borders Tokyo) are my friends, and I am very much looking forward to getting to hang out with them in Yokohama and Tokyo! They got a nice three-bedroom apartment 10 minutes from Yokohama and 25 minutes from Tokyo (Shibuya) and I really hope we continue to hang out often after we move, even though we’ll all make new friends and reunite with old acquaintances once we arrive. We’re living fairly close to each other though, so that will help.
The sticky thing is how all of our schools are taking the news that we’re leaving. A few people at my school found out this week (not everyone knows yet, which I’m glad for, though apparently all the staff will be told March 14 and they’re probably going to make me give a speech at the trimester closing ceremony BLAH) and what surprised me was how surprised they were! I guess because I’ve been living with this decision for a while now and because I know it’s a really great move for me, it seems pretty obvious that I would want to do it. But for the teachers at my school, who of course must work a full school year and can’t transfer or anything after just one year, putting in under a year of time at one school and then leaving is unthinkable. I completely understand that it’s kind of a shitty thing for me to do – start with the second trimester, work for only seven months, and just when the teachers and students are getting used to me and I’m getting used to them and the job, up and leave. I get that. It’s a very selfish decision I’m making, and that’s not exactly common in Japan. But… I still have to do it. I’m 27 years old and in a long-distance relationship with a boyfriend back in my home country. I have to do what I came to Japan to do (strengthen my Japanese as much as possible while furthering my career and my prospects upon my return, including translation work opportunities) and then go home. And while living here has been good for the language goals, in terms of the career goals, I can only do that in Tokyo.
But of course, for the teachers here – who may not be happy at this school although I think probably most of them are fine with living in this area – to hear, “I’m leaving this school, I’m going to the big city, I’m going to do another job that isn’t this type of work,” it must sound like I think I’m better than this place and this work. They may think, “Why did she even come at all if she was just going to leave?” (although there was always a chance I might stay if I loved it here) or, even if they’re well disposed to me, “Her time here just wasn’t long enough.” Or even, “How come she gets to leave while I’m still stuck here? She should have to put in her time too.” And I understand that stance.
But, while it won’t happen, I also wish they would consider my position here and why it might not be the #1 thing I want to continue doing, and why it’s also not fair to consider me in a position exactly like theirs (because I don’t get all the perks of that anyway). For one, my place on the staff. Even though this is my only school and I am here every day, I have never felt like a full member of the staff, and while I might if I stayed here another year or two, there are other new teachers who seem more accepted, because they can attend the staff meetings (I can’t), because the other teachers don’t assume they don’t speak Japanese and thus avoid talking to them (or constantly make them feel different by going out of their way to spit English words at them), and for so many other reasons. There is one teacher here who called over one of the Japanese teachers of English to act as interpreter when he had something to convey to me, even though he never tried just saying it to me in Japanese – the possibility that I might understand never entered his mind, even though I’d been there for months and he could have asked any of the number of people I’d spoken to or who’d heard me speak Japanese competently about my language ability. Months later (just two weeks ago), he came up to me and said in a thick accent, “This picture okay?” and it didn’t feel like he was trying to practice his English, it felt like he was still operating under the assumption that I couldn’t speak Japanese despite, if he just opened his eyes, so much evidence to the contrary. That was one of my worst experiences here; it made me feel so condescended to and misunderstood. File under the category of ‘microaggression’ for sure. Why would I want to stay in a place where I am the only one of my kind and everyone treats me based on the untrue assumptions they made about me just on sight, because they have no room in their mind for other possibilities? (“She’s not Japanese, so she must not speak it, obviously, even though she lives here”; “She speaks English to us, so that must mean that’s the only language she speaks, even though it’s her job as an English teacher to encourage our English usage”)
Second, there’s the job itself – first there’s the part where it’s a job that can be done by any native English speaker with a bachelor’s degree so I constantly feel underestimated, like people just take me at face value as “the ALT” and don’t realize I’m actually a skilled, qualified, legitimate professional who had a whole other career before this and I’m returning to it after this, but more than that is the fact that it doesn’t end at school. With 700 students, I am a visible and recognizable face in the wider community, greatly limiting my privacy. I knew this would be the case before I came here, but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. I live near the school, as do many of the students and their families, meaning that when I conduct daily life business like getting groceries/food or running errands around my apartment, there is a chance I will run into or be seen by students passing by. (I also stand out because of my blonde hair.) In many cases they report the sighting to me the next day. In many cases it doesn’t bother me that they saw me wherever, I just don’t like the self-consciousness that results from knowing as I am going about my business that a student might be watching me at any time. It’s also equal parts silly/amusing and annoying whenever they see me with a male companion and assume he must be my boyfriend, because a man and a woman don’t just hang out as friends here. Ironically, in two thirds of cases the man in question was gay! Anyway, let’s just say I’m very much looking forward to becoming another face in the crowd in Tokyo, and can do whatever I want with whoever, without the risk that a student will see me. I’m already too self-conscious as it is.
Third, there’s the city itself. It’s not a bad place to live; it has a castle, it’s close to a lake and has gorgeous sunsets. But it’s so out-of-the-way. To go anywhere else is a giant ordeal, and I just feel so cut off from the rest of civilization. Also, because it’s so isolated, there aren’t a lot of other visibly foreign people living here, meaning I get stared at, a lot, especially by the many old people who live here (one old man ahead of me on a bike even peeked back at me and then did a double-take once – and I’ve even had another old man actually turn his head to watch me pass, not stopping when I looked at him several times, totally shamelessly). I’m just extremely sick of it. It might be a little better in Tokyo where people are at least used to seeing foreign faces. And in many cases when I encounter Japanese people here, I become sort of a representative more than just another person: “Oh! A foreigner! An American! Let’s trot out all the stereotypes I have in my head and compare her against them” – and while it’s likely this will be the same in Tokyo, it’s still annoying to deal with here. It happens a lot when I talk to the other teachers at my school, and once in class I passed by a group of chatting students after giving them a meaningful glare designed to get them to be quiet and heard one recalcitrant boy ask the group “何人?” about me, literally “What is she?” which is just such a rude question not to mention stupid because I’ve been here seven months, I said I was American on my first day in every class, it’s your fault if you don’t know by now (and of course I’m sure he assumed I wouldn’t understand his question). It’s so rude it really makes you realize you are not a person to people like that, you are a thing. I never feel like just a regular person, I’m always something special and unique, and that gets exhausting. I just signed two students’ yearbooks and one commented to the other, “It’s like getting a famous person to sign it!” Experiences like this, when they add up and accumulate and pile on one another, really make your day-to-day life stressful and make me think, again, “I’m here because I like the Japanese language, not because I like Japanese people as a general rule.” It’s not that I dislike them, but many of them just have no concept of how to treat people who are different from them in a respectful, conscientious way because they don’t account for visibly different people in their society…
And I’m not saying I haven’t been shown incredible kindness here, and had some truly irreplaceable (not to mention hilarious) experiences that I will treasure, and met some students and teacher coworkers that I like very much and connect with. I absolutely have. But all the annoyances and ‘microaggressions’ and feeling more like a thing than a person most of the time just make it so rough so often (and were particularly hard to get used to when I first got here and I’m sure contributed to what may be termed a mental breakdown I had in the fall) that I want to respond to people who think/say “But you didn’t stay long enough, why would you leave so soon?” with “Are you crazy, why would I want to put up with this any longer than I have to if I don’t have to???” But they just have absolutely no idea what it’s like for me and when I try to explain it just sounds like I’m complaining or they have a lot of justifications (“But we don’t have many immigrants, of course we don’t know how to react to them and we don’t consider their experience a problem” “But many foreigners don’t speak Japanese, why shouldn’t I assume you’d be the same?” “But you have blonde hair and blue eyes and we have black, of course you stand out and people look at you”) and so I don’t do it, I can’t do it. I can tell you one thing though, it just makes me long for my own country where it’s okay and expected that people will look different, even though it’s taken us a long time to get there and there are still of course some places and communities where people who don’t look like everyone else will stand out (Ena, who is Chinese, is currently one of the only non-Asians in her small Northeast town, and has reported getting the same types of stares and double-takes from some of the white people there that I get from Japanese people here). I’ve had my moments in the past where I wished I wasn’t American because of our negative perception by other countries sometimes but nothing makes you appreciate your own country like living outside it for a while, nothing.
So, I know it’s selfish of me to leave now, and I regret the way everyone will judge me for my decision, but while things have been fine in 2013 so far, for my own stress levels and sanity I’m pretty sure I need to move to a place and a job where I hope things will be different and better. And needless to say I have major senioritis at this job now, maybe worse than the students who know a break and then a new school year is close and don’t want to work anymore, but I gotta push through. I also have to work both days this weekend (and then only get Monday off – we got the last Monday off too) because it’s graduation which SUCKS, but after that will only be eight more days of work and then I’m done and (I hope I hope I hope) don’t have to teach English (“teach” more like “assist the real teacher and do all the gruntwork”) to Japanese kids again. I can’t wait.
Oh, and as for how much longer I plan to stay in Japan itself, I’d like to be home by May 2014 or thereabouts. While Kirk and I are making it work and he’s been wonderfully patient with me, I don’t think we can stretch things any longer than that and I think by that point I’ll be desperate to come home and start our life together at last. I might even be desperate enough to agree to live in [D City] again, even though I always said I wanted to move away from it, at least to [A City] in the same state. I still don’t like its lack of natural beauty and impossibility of getting anywhere using any method except a car. But when all your friends and family are in one place, and you want to keep seeing them regularly and currently miss them all terribly, it’s hard to decide uprooting yourself would be better. We’ll see…