Saturday, January 12, 2013


2004 was a long time ago.

This was just one epiphany from the conversation at dinner this evening.  I had the privilege to meet up with a friend from high school and his wife, who are currently stationed at Yokota Air Base, about an hour away from me.

My friend remarked that much of a person's life when they are young is divided into four-year chunks: elementary school; middle school; high school; college.  "Did you realize", he asked, "that another four year chunk has passed since we were in college?"

I hadn't looked at it that way, and it was definitely a strange vantage point from which to look back on college and high school.

2004 was a long time ago.

Of course, 2004 Nate, then a Senior in high school, 17 going on 18, would never have been able to imagine that conversation.  2004 Nate wanted to be a journalist.  2004 Nate was preparing to go to college in the middle of a corn-field.  2004 Nate had no plans to live anywhere other than America.  2004 Nate even expected to return to his hometown of Lynden as soon as he'd finished college.

2004 Nate assumed that all of his friends and everyone he'd known in high school would settle in America, too, and mostly likely, in Lynden.  After all, that was simply what one did: flew away for college, and then like homing pigeons, migrated resolutely back to those familiar sights and smells.

2004 Nate could not have come up with the scenario of one day eating at an Indian restaurant in Japan with a friend from high school in even the wackiest of MadLibs.

Yet, tonight, this event did not seem so unusual: it was the second time I'd met up with this friend and his wife since they arrived in Japan in the summer.  A few months before that, I'd met up with another friend and his wife in downtown Tokyo, as they made a brief stop before traveling back to Thailand, where they live and work.  In a few weeks, yet another friend from high school will arrive in Japan, stationed at Naval Air Facility Atsugi.  It is good to reunite with these friends, though indeed our days of hanging out in the halls of the school, or playing video games at one or the others' houses are part of a chapter long past.  It is a privilege I never expected when I made the move to Japan, that I'd end up living within an hour of several friends from high school, and in the same part of the world as even more.  Perhaps this may change notions of "what is expected" for future generations... perhaps we're setting a new kind of precedent: 3 out of a class of 84 students living in Japan; 4 living in East Asia, more than that living outside of America and Lynden... or perhaps nobody will even notice, and life in Lynden will go on much as it always has this past age.

And of course, not one bit of this situation--not even the basic premise--would have been on the radar of 2004 Nate.

2004 was a long time ago.

No comments:

Post a Comment