I thought about it, but I didn’t really take it seriously before I moved: the fact that moving meant I could start a new life. I could shorten my name. I could make new friends. I could start new hobbies. And I did.
“My name’s Dan,” she said as I sat next to her in my first day of training. It was her second, as, due to VISA delays, I’d been late getting to Japan.
In my head, I saw two possibilities in a split second. “I’m Karita,” wanted to come out, a reflex after 22 years. But I wanted something different. I needed it. And maybe it sounds small, but to me, it was the biggest change so far. So I said, “Hi, I’m Kita.”
Moving to a place where no one knows you is almost like there isn’t a you. No one knows your personality, your preferences, your dislikes and styles. So I went new places. I tried food that I can’t even name – like, literally, I don’t even know what that was – and some that, unfortunately, I could: octopus as purple as an iris, chicken intestine, tiny fish with eyeballs. I took up new hobbies, like photography, guitar, and skateboarding. Rock climbing is next on my list.
I think I was trying to make an entirely new me. I wanted to forget everything I had left behind and become someone who hadn’t lived through any of it, who was so much cooler, more experienced, just plain better. But, slowly, I came back to me. I realized that adding new pieces doesn’t mean I need to get rid of the old ones. I started saying no to foods that look questionable. (I’m not all that picky, but if your stomach churns at the thought of putting something in your mouth, don’t do it.) I stopped putting up with people’s bullshit just because I wanted us all to be friends. I accepted the new parts of me that I thought should stay, but stopped trying to be someone I’m not. And I returned to my oldest passion: fiction writing.
At the end of my senior year of college, I was sitting at lunch with the sports administrator and the university’s president (it’s a small school). The sports administrator asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I decided to be honest, and I told him that, although I’d basically denied it for most of my life, I really wanted to be a writer. The president spoke up and said, “But what are you gonna do for money?” He’s an endearing old man.
So, with an internal middle-finger-up to everyone who’s – intentionally or not – put me down, I’m gonna do my best to become the best damn writer I can be. Will I make a career out of it? I don’t know. But will I love it? Without a doubt, and if I’ve learned anything in life so far, that’s what really matters.
It’s a slow evolution, so forgive me; I’m just starting out. Here goes nothing.