On a day like today, exactly one year ago, Bibu and I took a plane to join Mr M here in Tokyo. A couple of days before that, I went to Rock Werchter and saw The Killers live, which remains as 'my best rock festival experience' so far. It was a lovely sunny day, we ate mosselen with fries and a glass (or two) of champagne, as you do.
Three days later, I arrived with 13-month-old, barely walking Bibu to a very hot and humid Tokyo. Hot and humid, just like it is now. Among my first impressions of living in Tokyo were the incredible amounts of insects that take over the city in the summer: the constant background noise of the cicadas, the gigantic cockroaches, the enormous stag-beetles, mosquitoes and spiders....
The first few weeks were spent roaming around the neighbourhood, getting to know the supermarkets and trying to make some sense of the labels in Japanese. We arrived into an empty apartment building, everybody was at their home countries and there was virtually nobody to talk with, bar some small talk here and there with other mums in the park. Bibu slept quite a lot, a bit in the morning and a bit in the afternoon, so our trips outside were short and not too far away from the house. For the first couple of months, I didn't dare to go outside before 4:30pm, it was too hot. I remember one afternoon that we went walking up to Roppongi Hills and that seemed like so far away (it only takes me 15 minutes now). Yep, we've come a long way.
It's also been over a year that I am not working, as in "not working in an office". Although I am a little bit more organised today, have a cleaning lady that comes once a week and Bibu goes every morning to school, I still feel like this housewife thing is definitely more tiring and boring than the office stuff. Being with Bibu and getting to see him grow up before my eyes, not missing any step, is really the best part of it. The rest seems like a constant cycle of washing up/ loading and unloading washing machines and dishwashers/ picking up toys from the ground, vacuuming crumbs/ cooking/ shopping for food/ thinking about what to cook/ preparing lunch boxes, etc. Did I do all these things before, while I was working? It seems I did, and still went to work and had Bibu and had a social life. So what is it now that it feels like my day is filled with these chores? Poor time management, probably. Also, I spend loads of time with the PC. We might not have a TV set, but still we spend lots of time in front of a screen, wasting time most of the time.
But hey, a year ago, I had no clue about Japanese. Now I can manage to tell taxi-drivers where I want to go, where they need to turn and where to stop. I even understand when some smiley old grandma asks me how old Bibu is. I am yet to tackle small talk or a more elevated exchange with shop assistants than "thank you" and "I don't need a bag", but well, Super Sensei constantly praises my progress and I dont' think it's only because of my cookie bribery tactics (although they must help, hehe)
One year on, one year to go. Never in my wildest dreams thought I would be living in Japan, but I am. This time last year was "the end of the world as I knew it". The not working situation, the being far away from my Brussels friends and family and twice as far away and half a day ahead of my family in Argentina makes it a bit hard, but getting to see our Bibu grow up from wobbly walker to non-stop-trilingual boy is a privilege and joy not many people have. I clink my glass to myself and drink to another great year in the Land of the Rising Sun.