Well, the deed has been done.
I have officially handed in my notice that I will NOT be staying here in Hokkaido another year.
It was a really tough decision for me. There has been a lot of pressure for me to stay on another year from many corners -- my kyoto-sensei sent me a new year's card with a hand written note hoping that I would stay another year, my office made it very clear that they really wanted me to stay, my friends in town want me to stay, and even my ALT friends (at least the ones who are staying on another year) keep asking me to stay.
But in the end, the decision is mine to make. And I think that staying on another year isn't going to bring me any new insights to living in Japan or to myself. I've had some incredible times here, and I will miss it terribly. I know I will. But it's time to move on and do something a little more related to the real world. It's time to get out of the bubble.
My contract finishes in six months, and so I'm starting the long goodbye to the life I have known here in Japan. Last chance to see the snow festival in Sapporo (this weekend), last chance to see the sea ice up north (next weekend). Last chance to see... lots of things.
Everything seems more immediate now that I know I'll be leaving. I have thoughts like -- I should be doing something exciting tonight/this weekend because I don't have an infinite number of evenings and weekends left in Japan to use. Which I guess is how one should approach life anyways. None of us has an infinite number of evenings, so we'd better make the most of what we've got.
Reading this over again, it seems a little sad. Well, I'm sad that I'm leaving. I'll admit it. And it's tough, because I'm not really sure what I'll be doing after this. But in the end, I really do think it's time to leave here and end my illustrious career as a human tape recorder. A job I've done okay with, but I need to go back to using my brain before it turns completely to mush.