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Recap 2023 - Part 2

Part two. Where had we left off... Oh yes, I found an apartment in Kyoto and applied for a visa for my new job. I had to tell my boss and colleagues that I would leave the Ryokan at the end of the year. It wasn't an easy step, as all these people, despite their strengths and weaknesses, are still very close to my heart.

As you know, once a month there was a meeting between our boss and the employees at the ryokan. Individually, in private, so that they could speak freely. I used this opportunity to tell my boss about my plan. I knew she wouldn't be thrilled, so I took a lot of strength and self-love to take this step.

She tried to convince me to stay at least until January or think about it again because we could discuss everything. But the work circumstances just weren't right for me. The main trigger, or the straw that broke the camel's back, was that I couldn't use any of my few paid vacation days around Christmas when Chris came to Japan. The company rules state that no paid vacation can be taken in November and December. And no exception was made for me. I had announced long enough in advance (August) that I wanted to take a paid vacation there because my partner was coming to Japan. At that time (August), I was still told that it might be possible and that a solution could undoubtedly be found. But the more the year progressed, the more difficult it became, and the more impossible it seemed for me to get two days off in a row. You can imagine how much frustration and resentment this causes when you are told that you can hardly spend time with your partner, whom you haven't seen for a good year, let alone go on vacation.

This statement that I wouldn't be able to take paid vacation was the last straw and once again confirmed my decision to end my employment with this company.



But as a foreigner, there is more to such a job than just money and health insurance. My residence permit and my work permit depend on such jobs. But I'm very grateful that I wasn't given a hard time. My boss spoke with me about my decision but quickly realized she couldn't change my mind. The choice I gave her was either that I could take my paid leave or leave the company, as my partnership was more important to me than employment. And since we couldn't find a common denominator, I handed in my notice at the beginning of December.


In mid-December, on 13.12.2023 to be precise, Chris landed in Japan. It had been ten months since we had last seen each other, and my joy was boundless. It was time for me to get through another seven days at work and then fly to Okinawa for a well-deserved vacation. But I had imagined it would be better than it ended up being.

After three days at work, I had severe cold symptoms and a fever. I went to the hospital in Yugawara and had it checked to see if it was just influenza or COVID. It turned out to be the flu and a very stubborn one. I was prescribed medication and was, of course, unable to work my last few days. Now, the focus was on getting better by Okinawa because there was a surprise waiting for me there, for which I had to be healthy, as Chris said.

After three days of bed, fever, and soup, which Chris had lovingly prepared, I was well enough for us to fly to Okinawa. The surprise was to be a dive. For me, who doesn't feel exceptionally comfortable in the sea, it was a mental and physical challenge. But it was going to be worth it.

Mt. Fuji greeted us from the plane and wished us a good flight and an eventful journey.



When we arrived in Okinawa, the weather wasn't on our side. It was windy and cloudy, and the fact that it was December didn't make the temperature any more pleasant. But the water was warm, and we were rewarded with fish and beautiful corals.


Yes, Chris hadn't promised too much. However, the surprise that awaited me underwater was even more significant than the "dive" experience itself.

When we disappeared into the water for the first dive, I was still struggling with panic and breathing. It's quite a challenge when you only ever breathe through your nose in everyday life, and then suddenly you're only allowed to breathe through your mouth. I was so preoccupied with myself and my device that I couldn't enjoy the panorama unfolding before me. After I had leveled out a bit, I discovered a giant heart made of coral and stones on the ground. My first thought was: Wow! How beautiful! Someone gave his best here. I dived over it and then back again to show Chris. He then told me that I should go into the heart. I looked at him in confusion, and the thought of why started to form in my head. After all, there was no one there to take a photo. So Chris went into the heart and motioned for me to come to him. Still confused, I followed his instructions and thought: If he proposes to me now, I'll laugh. (As well as I can underwater.) And sure enough, he suddenly started fiddling with a bag on the side of his leg. Bubbles of thought rose inside me. "He's not doing that. He's not doing it. He's not." And yet, to relieve you of the tension, he did.

First, he held up a piece of paper that read: "Thank you for the tea." as an allusion to the tea ceremony that I had held for him immediately after his arrival, he took out a second piece of paper with one question written on it. "Will you marry me?" and YES, of course. But I could only answer that underwater with a nod. And then came something that only Chris could pull off. A Pokéball is a ring box, and the ring is attached to the ball with a fishing line so that it can't escape underwater.


To all the girls out there, find a man like him, and you'll have a lifetime of memories and beautiful moments.


After that, time was somehow different. Slower, more intense, more relaxed. We went out for a fancy dinner in the evening, and the next few days were filled with car excursions around Okinawa and a visit to one of Japan's largest aquariums.


 

After returning to Japan's main island with a few challenges, it was time for the next challenge. Moving the contents of my room in the Ryokan to the new apartment in Kyoto. I had rented a Toyota Corolla in Atami via "Toyota - Rent a Car", assuming I didn't have that much stuff....... As it turned out, when I was putting it into the car, I had accumulated quite a lot over the last year. So it was up to me to take the boxes and bags from my room to the car, and Chris tried to get everything into the small car somehow. At this point, I have to say that he deserves to be called a Tetris master. I still have absolutely no idea how he got all my things into the car. But I am all the more grateful to him for taking on this challenge and mastering it without complaining.

We then had a six-hour drive ahead of us, accompanied by Mt Fuji. After two breaks and a traffic jam shortly before the end later, we arrived at the housing agency, where I collected the key to the apartment. I handed over the key and other paperwork and continued to the apartment. We still had 2 hours until I returned the car with a full gas tank. So now it was time for Chris to put his feet up and take care of his strained spine after the long drive, and for me, it was "Better to break my arms than walk twice" and clear out of the car! Once everything was more or less tidy in the apartment, I took the car to the rental company, and another big step was taken in my life, and I was on my way to my dream.


 

When I think about everything that has happened in the last few months, I feel small compared to everything I have achieved and experienced!

I am grateful for all the people I have met during this time and all my experiences. I am thankful for all the ups and downs, the flowery and the gray days, because they have shown me that life goes on and that it can be perfect if you trust your feet and don't think so much about the direction of the path.

Thank you to all the people, friends, colleagues, companions, and teachers who have accompanied me since I arrived in Japan almost two years ago. You are still helping me to grow and pursue my dream.

Thank you!


 

A little epilogue:

Some of the pictures that can be found here in the blog entry are available for purchase and will help finance my further journey and repay the help I have received from various people. So, if you are interested in my pictures, you can visit my Picfair page via this link and choose your favorite picture.

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