A tribute to Hiroshima

Dear Hiroshima,

Well, it’s been three and a half years now and I’m still here. My mum reminded me of that the other day. She seemed surprised to think that I’ve remained in a place that has given me the best and worst times of my life so far.

Why?

Probably because I used to run away from a lot of things when I was scared or when I felt like I’d just had enough. I guess you taught me to stick it out, or not necessarily to put up with things, but to change them when they were no longer serving me.

Hiroshima, I’ve learned a lot from you.

First and foremost, you helped me to finally find my groove.

I learned exactly who I am and I also learned that I will never be the same person I used to be because of you and my experiences here.

I learned that there are ghosts of my own here, but that rather than let them haunt me, I need to lay them to rest, or at least, let them go and do their own thing separately from me. Just like you, Hiroshima, I need to find that peace that exists within the depths of my soul.

I realised the other day, Hiroshima, that you are like my hometown in Japan; you have served a purpose that I so desperately needed and I thank you eternally for that. You have been a home to me, a place where I feel 100% comfortable and yet, recently, I have finally admitted to myself that I don’t feel the same about you as I once did.

I’m not saying I don’t love you anymore, I do, but it’s changed. I’ve changed. I feel that rather than growing, I’ve become stale and flat and lifeless. I can challenge myself here, but I want and need bigger opportunities and more stimulation than I know I will ever find here.

I didn’t want to admit that to myself because it meant I would have to leave you, Hiroshima; I used to feel the same way about my hometown in Australia. It meant starting over and going on new adventures and finding new people and new situations to learn from. Yet, if I had stayed where I was, I would never have met you, Hiroshima.

As much as I love you, I love me more and that means letting go. I cannot be with you forever because I know with all my heart that you are not who I am supposed to be with. You were for a time, but you’re not anymore and I will never meet who I am supposed to if I stay with you.

I’m crying here, Hiroshima, because it hurts. It hurts to admit that I was wrong and it hurts to know that even though I once loved you, I don’t feel the same way now.

My memories of you are good and bad and you’ve definitely given me some scars I will live with forever. Just like you, Hiroshima, I now wear them proudly because it shows I survived. I want to think that rather than letting them define me, I define them. Hiroshima, you have chosen to see your history as a marker of events that changed your life; you have turned them into something positive.

I am going to do the same.

Thank you, Hiroshima.

 

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Hiroshima: countryside?

The other day I was at the doctor’s and had to get some medicine from the pharmacy around the corner.

I had filled in the required form in Japanese (what I could) and told the pharmacist that my kanji wasn’t so great, so he’d have to do the rest.

He did and actually read the rest of the form to me asking me whether I was pregnant (no!), was there a chance (no!) and was I allergic to any medicines.

Despite me telling him my Japanese isn’t great, he kept saying it was and struck up a conversation with me about how long I’d been in Japan.

I told him I’d been in Hiroshima for four years and that nearly 13 years ago I’d lived in Tokyo for a year

That’s when he came out and said (and obviously, I’m translating here!), “Wow, you lived in Tokyo and now you’re in Hiroshima?! Hiroshima is countryside! It must be really different from Tokyo and not so exciting!”

Actually, he said boring rather than, “not so exciting,” but I tried to soften his meaning.

Anyway, I agreed that although it’s smaller and yes, it’s different, Hiroshima is nice and if we’re going to talk countryside, than Shimane Prefecture to the north is far, far more rural than Hiroshima!

This was all done in Japanese and when I finished saying that, both he and his assistant burst into laughter. I was chuffed that I’d managed to use Japanese and have people laughing at a joke I’d make, rather than laughing at my actual Japanese.

I said thank you for my medicine and walked out, still chuckling to myself.

Then I started to think.

Yes, Hiroshima is regional. By some standards, I guess it is rural.

I’m from Gladstone, Queensland in Australia, which has a population of about 30,000 people. By Japanese standards, that’s countryside or inaka (田舎). Hiroshima, with it’s approximately 1.1 million people is a good-sized city according to my standards, but for Japan, it’s tiny. To those who live in Tokyo and for those who live in Hiroshima and have never lived in a big city like Tokyo, I guess it is inaka. 

I know what he was saying though. I understand. Or should I say, I understand now. I’ve lived in both.

And I guess, in a way, after living in Hiroshima these past three, nearly four years… Hiroshima is kind of like Gladstone:

  • small;
  • conservative;
  • everyone knows everyone (and sometimes that’s not a good thing, especially when it comes to your business, hence why I pretty much took myself off the radar)
  • not diverse as far as population;
  • expensive and far away from the Big Smoke when it comes to wanting to travel to many places;
  • in many ways, inconvenient (see above point);
  • good for families but not so great for singles or people wanting to meet more actual people and not have to rely on bars of Tinder (yes, that’s a point for a friend of mine);
  • and finally, it doesn’t have the culture, art and fashion I so desperately crave.

That last point really hits home. I didn’t realise how much I’ve missed having access to those things. I mean I know in my hometown I was out of there as soon as the holidays came and I detested the place with every fibre of my being. I like Hiroshima, I really do. It’s the one place I’ve lived longer than anywhere else for a very, very, very long time. That says something. But I also know in myself that I’ve been feeling stale and flat for two years.

Visiting Tokyo again has been like a breath of fresh air, but it’s also re-awoken the fire within; and the need and desire to challenge and expand myself and yet at the same time, to lose myself in the anonymity again.

In that way, yes, Hiroshima is the countryside.

 

My new photography project 

I think I may have found my new hobby: taking photos of bus shelter advertisements. 

I find them really interesting because not only do they advertise new products, places or events, they also represent the seasons. 

Since it’s summer there are plenty of sunscreen, beer and cool drink product ads. Actually, who am I kidding? Beer and alcohol in general are advertised ALL the time in Japan. 

Japan is all about seasons. They love any excuse to tell you all about them. In my konbini and also my new Daiso column I frequently talked/talk about the seasons. Being from Australia in a hometown that has maybe… two seasons… I love Japan and the fact that each season brings new things. There’s always something to look forward to. 

The other thing I find really interesting about bus shelter advertisements is that often times local celebrities are featured so you can tell where you are just by looking at them. 

365 Photo Prompt: June 20 2017

I wrote this yesterday but issues stopped me from uploading it. Sorry. 

Before I begin this photo prompt, let me just say that I’m getting bored with the topics being given to me for photography. I take photos every day and I know what I do enjoy taking photos of. I like scenes of Hiroshima, funny and quirky things that take my fancy and ordinary things from life too. 

I know the prompts are supposed to extend you and challenge you but I’m finding them bland. I was originally taking all photos on my RicohGRII, but at least two now I’ve taken with my iPhone because the quality is high and it’s easier than fiddling around with the wifi setting on my camera. 

I’m not sure what I’m going to end up doing but it may be that this project is coming to an end simply because I’m not liking it anymore. I don’t find it inspiring at all. If I do decide to ditch the project, I will of course continue to take photos everyday and I will definitely keep writing everyday but not how I have been this year. 

And now that I come to the prompt for today… Animal. Funnily enough I’ve already taken a photo of a cat today and so I’m not reposting it. I’m just going to write about the topic. 

Animal: 

Sometimes I wished I was an animal. Yes, I know humans are animals but you know what I mean. 

I mean the kind who can lay on their backs and have their bellies rubbed, snooze in the sun for hours and then stretch, blink and roll over for another hour. 

Then again, I’m not sure I want to be owned by a human. I don’t want someone to constantly pick me up and carry me around like a toy and I don’t want kids to pull my ears and tail. 

Humans can be fucking stupid sometimes. 

365 Photo Prompt: June 19 2017

From the side: I didn’t even know I had reached my breaking point until it was upon me. 

It came on me from the side, rather than a frontal assault and that was fine, but it almost missed me. I’m glad it didn’t. 

I had to be honest with myself. I didn’t trust men. I didn’t trust any men. I didn’t trust my friends, I didn’t trust the men I passed on the street. I was done. 

What I loved most of all were the fucking douchbag people who told me he was coming and that I hadn’t met the right one yet. 

Bullshit. 

That was psychobabble bullshit you told people to make them feel better and to justify your position as a ‘good friend.’

I didn’t give a shit anymore if I was single forever. My hand was more than enough and I didn’t have to worry about some guy coming everywhere and wondering each month if I was pregnant. 

I was doing everything for myself from now on. 

No man was EVER going to change my opinion on that.

I was through. 

I just hoped that I woke up feeling better than how I knew I would go to sleep. 

365 Photo Prompt: June 18 2017

Water: Clearly it needed water. Its leaves were withered and the petals drooping.

I felt a bit like the sunflowers too. Rather than thirsty though, I felt hungry; hungry for proper love and affection and true intimacy, not some half-arsed substitute for love. 

It was pathetic how I kept being treated. I knew now that none of it was my fault; it was the douchebag guys who assumed that I was the fun party girl to have a good time with. 

Wrong. 

I wasn’t the party girl, I was the good girl who liked to have fun with her friends occasionally. 

I knew how that sunflower felt. I was exhausted too as though I needed new life breathed into me. 
I wondered who would water me.