Today marks four years that we've been living in Japan.
I was always planning to write a post reflecting on the year. I went and reread my last three anniversary posts earlier this week, and was starting to organize my thoughts about how I had grown and what I had learned this year.
And then the US presidential election happened. And it was shocking. I don't just say that as a Hillary supporter - which I am. I think it was a surprise to most Trump supporters too - though obviously more pleasant for them. In Japan they are calling it the Trump Shock.
It feels strange and inappropriate to come here and write a blog post without acknowledging the election, but it also seems inappropriate and out of character to talk about it here. I don't use this space to share my political beliefs, and I try to keep this space positive, welcoming, and focused on my experience in Japan. But this is about what it's like to live in Japan.
My experience of the election has been very different from anyone I know in the US. There aren't crowds of people protesting, there aren't crowds of people celebrating. No one is asking me what I think about the election or sharing their opinions either. It's just business as usual. Of course I have American friends here (and an Australian who cares too!), and we've met up and talked about what happened. But I don't feel present, or immersed in what's happening. It's strange to feel like a distant observer. I think it also makes it easier to make sense of my own thoughts and emotions without being caught up in a swirl of other people processing their thoughts and feelings at the same time. But it also makes me want to be close to my family. To share love and support.
I know people who read this blog that are actively protesting the election results. I know people who read this blog that voted for Trump. I know people who read this blog that are devastated and people who are not. I care immensely for each of you. I hope you care about me too. I hope we are able to move forward together with love in our hearts.
I've had friends tell me I should stay here at least four more years. But I don't agree. Who our president is or isn't doesn't make me stop caring about my country and it shouldn't let me disengage.
Speaking of four years, that's how long I've been living in Japan. I want to write a reflection about that, but I want it to be separate from my reflection on this election as an expat. So, I think for today this is enough.