Beginning of adult life
I had about three weeks to prepare for the move. I found an apartment catering for female students in Kichijoji, an affluent and vibrant area in the North West of Tokyo. The room was about 120 square feet, equipped with the kitchen and a bathroom, furnished with a bed, a desk, a bookshelf, an old dial phone, and AC. It cost 75,000 yen monthly ($750/mo), which was on the expensive side, but I convinced my parents that all utility bills were included, and more importantly, I’d feel safe.
It was still cold for the beginning of April on the day of my departure. I put on a pair of black pants, a black sweater, and a grey winter coat. I wore make-up, and my shoulder-length hair was impeccably done. I looked like a 25-year-old professional woman rather than a naive country girl of 18 I was. My grandfather insisted we took family photos. I stood in front of the house with my grandparents, then with my parents, then with each of them. None of us had known how to express our feelings, so our separation was no different from that of one of the mornings I left for school.
When I arrived in Tokyo and was alone in my room, I acknowledged an uncomfortable, agitating feeling. I can now describe it as the feeling of insecurity, anxiety, and nervousness. But I didn’t know how to respect my emotional state or ask for advice or help. My sister hated it when I expressed negative feelings, so I acted along with her high-spirited attitude. By then, I had been made to believe I had to be like my sister – bubbly, friendly, and fun, so I suppressed my true self that was introverted, timid, and anxious. It was the start of my adult life, and I had to do it right.