Atta Ikede

November 9, 2008

Slowing Down

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 3:53 pm

There’s a hallway separating my bedroom from the living area. Although my whole apartment here is painted beige, this hallway seems particularly beige because there’s no furniture or decor to break up the monotony except for 4 doors, all of which are also painted beige.

So I strung up 2 strings on the longest and non-door interrupted wall and cut out a bunch of manga comic strips from a used comic book I’d purchased for 100 Yen (1 dollar) outside of Shinjuku station. I hung these comic cutouts using colourful ribbon, resulting in a fun look that definitely brightened things up.

Since then, I’ve been adding post cards to the strings too. I’m lucky to have a few friends that religiously send me post cards. Earlier this afternoon, I was adding a few recent arrivals to the small collection on the wall, when I had a brain wave – I have a box full of momentos like photos and letters. I brought it with me when I moved here. I bet I’ve kept some older post cards in there! I should pull those out and add them to my wall!

I just spent the last hour going through the stuff in that box. It’s funny what a box full of papers and photos can do to a person. Geez, I feel downright emotional!

You know, when I first moved here, I really embraced my status of being new in town. I chatted with strangers, went out and did touristy things on my own, joined the soccer team, went to a couple of newcomer meetups, made some friends, etc. Since then, that outgoing-ness has slowed down quite a bit. I’m back to my slightly-introverted behaviours.

Overall, I’m quite happy and satisfied; however once in a while I have these sudden realizations that I don’t have very many close friends here. Sometimes I miss my buddies and my family. The last time I really had these feelings was around my birthday. I really missed my university friends, who lived with me and know every crazy thing about me, and my highschool friends, who have known me for so many years they know secrets like how Sabina used to pull my hair on the bus in Grade 4. lol. And I missed the wonderful friends who I’ve picked up along the way in life, like friends from previous jobs and friends I met when I was taking different classes. Other times I really miss my family, like yesterday afternoon, it was drizzling out and so i started poking around on youtube and ended up watching a hindi movie. It would have been great to watch that with my parents!

Sometimes when those feelings set in, it kinda bothers me that I haven’t been able to cultivate those kinds of relationships here. Why don’t I have any buddies here yet? Sure, I have friends, but no buddies per se. When I have something I really want to discuss, I still find myself dialing the 416 or 519 area code. Should I be socializing more? Should I smile more? What is the recipe for making new relationships ???

I think that after going through these momentos here, I realize that perhaps this is not so bad. Fact is, I already have a community of people who care for me. That’s why I’ve kept all these things – old birthday cards my dad made, post cards and letters from friends half way around the world, goodbye cards from old jobs, little notes with inside jokes that I don’t even get anymore (something about a pink jumper?) – they’re all reminders that I already have buddies.

Making friends takes time, especially for slightly-introverted people like me. It took me years to create the relationships that I have now. It’s hard to expect that I’ll have equally meaningful new ones in a matter of months.

That being said, perhaps I’ve slowed down a little too much. Time, distance and similarity are important factors – there’s only so much closeness a relationship can have when one party is 3 time zones away and has a totally different kind of job and lifestyle. That box of memontos certainly contained a few from people who are no longer in my life.

I guess my first conclusion from all this is that I’m going to try to keep up with a moderate level of social activity here. That would probably be best. I don’t really know the recipe for relationships, but I do know that nobody wants to talk to somebody that doesn’t talk to them. My second conclusion is that I’m going to do my very best to stay close to the people who matter to me back home. I don’t want us to drift apart…and we won’t! At least not because of anything I could do.

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7 Comments »

  1. I have those feelings too… and it makes me a little sad when I realise that I don’t have anyone I could really talk to here. And the other thing that makes me sad is, I don’t know if it’s just me but, I find that it gets harder and harder to find people that want to hang around you just to be friends. With guys it always seems like it’s because they want to be more then just friends. With girls at school most of them just wants to hear what gossip you’ve got on other people. And then with about 95% of the people that are not sexually into you or don’t care for gossips, they just want to get notes/studying tips/answers to exams off of you. So you’re really left with about 1% of people who are actually genuine and without ulterior motives.

    I never noticed it so much when I was in school for my first degree, maybe because my program was much bigger so you don’t need to socialize with anyone if you don’t have to. Whereas here, I have no friends to begin with so I force myself to talk to people at school and because our program’s so small it’s hard to keep avoiding eye contact with everyone and ignore their existance.

    I think I’ve been lucky enough to have found a few of those genuine people, but even with those people, they’re not really anyone I would run to if I was feeling down or if I was just feeling my quiet self. I miss being around people where I can just be me and not have to put up a happy face.

    Comment by rabbitdownunder — November 11, 2008 @ 3:17 pm

  2. wow that comment was so long I should’ve just put it up on my blog as an entry!

    Comment by rabbitdownunder — November 11, 2008 @ 3:18 pm

  3. I feel that way too. I’ve been over here for 3 years and I still dial 905 or 212 when I have something tough I need help on. I hate that people here don’t know me the way others do. But I do feel good about the people I have at home, as it’s nice to know that no matter how far away I am they still care. Distance also shows you who your true friends are – those who make the effort, regardless of how far away you may be!!

    Comment by Cat — November 13, 2008 @ 5:44 am

  4. Wow, so you collect those too!! I guess we could be “collection buddies” too?!

    Comment by picnic buddy — November 13, 2008 @ 10:06 am

  5. Aww .. thanks guys! It’s really good to know I’m not alone in this experience.

    Rabbit and Cat, I totally agree with you both. You know, I’ve actually gotten closer to some friends, like “picnic buddy”, my highschool friend who lives in Cambridge. I didn’t see her very frequently when I was in Toronto, but now that I’m here, we mail each other stuff and we’ve um, become addicted to online dominoes! hehe. I feel like I know her better now!

    Comment by attaikede — November 14, 2008 @ 8:09 am

  6. It is always nostalgic going through old memories. I always end up with a sense of love around me… the feeling that I was and probably am important to someone. I want you to know that you are always in my thoughts and my heart no matter how long we may go without contact. You will always be important to me. Oh yeah, and if you ever do figure out that recipe for making new, worthwhile relationships… let me know!!

    Comment by Lisa — November 16, 2008 @ 6:51 am

  7. I know. I keep you in my thoughts too :)

    Comment by attaikede — November 18, 2008 @ 8:27 am


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