Cared my ex-husband to the end in 2012, then moved to San Diego, California in 2014 to rebuild my life.
As a writer, my speciality is the "well-being" field. I write essays and short stories as well.
In my free time, I enjoy surfing, yoga, and spending time with my new husband and doggies.
FAY is my “American” nickname.
DAYS / Satoko FAY Column
Time cures all things
It's been seven years since I moved to California, USA.
It was the end of March 2014.
I landed at Los Angeles International Airport.
I didn’t have any relatives or friends here.
The only people I could ask a favor are Y, whom I met while traveling Mt. Shasta the year before, and my boss and colleagues whom I didn’t meet yet.
I hadn't even decided where to live.
I headed to a hotel from the airport and checked in. And the next day, I went to work.
Before I moved to California, I lived in Japan.
I left most of my belongings in my house, and came here with only 2 suitcases.
I appreciate my deceased husband had left some money in order for me to live for a while, but it was literally just for a while.When I started to live in California, the money left in my bank was just enough to buy a car for living. I would say that was starting over at age 39.
Did I have hope for my new life?
I want to say yes, but I don't really remember how I felt. But I remember it was tough to live in Japan without my husband. For me, leaving Japan at that time means escaping from all memories of my deceased husband.
I met him when I was 28 years old, and I lost him when I was 36. In almost all of the memories in my late 20s and early 30s, there is him. So there are a lot of things that remind me of him in Japan and that hurt.
I knew grief is a natural response but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with sorrow.
I wanted to live with passion and joy.
In order for myself to heal, I needed an environment where there was nothing to remind me of him. And that was the main reason for my relocation.
Well, as you can imagine, living abroad is not easy in many ways. Especially first a couple of years.
In the first month since my arrival, my tooth filling came off. It had not happened for more than 10 years, but it happened all of sudden. Because I didn’t have dental insurance yet, I needed to go to a cheap underground kind dental clinic and that depressed me.
I bought an old used car but the speedometer didn’t work. The dealer fixed it for free, but a week later, the engine stopped.
Right after it was fixed, the radiator started to leak. Because I didn't have enough money to fix or replace it, I had to carry a radiator fluid in the car and to refill it every time I drive.
If I was in my 20s, I might think this would be funny. But I was in my 30s.
Whenever I struggled, I asked myself “Do I still want to live here going through so much hardship? If I went back to Japan, I would be able to live without any inconvenience”.
After all, I didn't go back to Japan. Because I knew even if I lived in Japan, there would be different kinds of toughness like living with my deceased husband’s memories without him.
That was a choice. Which toughness did I choose? I choose to live here.
For me, it seemed more manageable to deal with real life trouble than to face deep grief.
Indeed, having lots of things I have to do everyday took my mind away from sadness.
In Japan, we have an idiom that says if you keep sitting on a hard stone for at least 3 years, you will feel conforte on that stone. Maybe that’s right.
Around my third year in the US, I started to feel myself relaxing and having fun living here.
And that was time I met my future husband through surfing.
Every spring, when the cherry blossom season comes, my friends upload pictures of cherry blossom blooming and my SNS timeline is filled with it.
That used to make me nostalgic and sometimes Ii was too nostalgic to see. But this year, I’ve found I truly enjoy the virtual cherry blossom viewing.
Before, I tended to think “I couldn't see cherry blossoms in Japan this year again.
I haven't seen cherry blossoms for X years”.
Well, that might be a natural reaction of mind. I had lived for more than 30 years in Japan and cherry blossom viewing was my every year habit since I was born. But this year, after seven years living in California, finally my mind has changed.
I get used to spring without cherry blossoms. I mean, spring without cherry blossoms has become my new normal.
My deceased husband and I had known each other for 9 years. And surprisingly 9 years have passed since I lost him. Although I am not aware of it, my mind might finally accept life without him is my new normal.
I might be able to enjoy a trip to Japan without being overwhelmed by memories.
It is said "Time cures all things".
Time medicine works so slowly that it is hard to believe if it heals your pain especially in the beginning.
But actually it works and one day you suddenly realize you are healed. That’s how it works.
DAYS / Satoko FAY Column
Daylight savings time (summer time)
For me, living in the U.S., one of the biggest events in March is the start of summer.
It's called "Summer Time".
Officially, it's called Daylight Saving Time, and the clocks will be set one hour earlier than before.
The idea is to use daylight hours effectively.
I've taken the liberty of translating this to mean that we should enjoy the sun from early in the morning until late in the evening.
The days are getting longer and longer as we head into summer, and in fact, there are times when it's still light until around eight o'clock.
The fact that the sun is still shining after work makes me feel much happier than I imagined.
My friends who are drinkers say that it is nice to be able to toast while the sun is still up after a hard day's work.
I'm not much of a drinker, but I'm happy to surf the sunset after work.
I usually surf in the morning as well and then go to work, so it's not impossible to have two sessions in the morning and evening while working in the summer (whether I do it or not).
I read that the historian Yuval Noah Harari wrote in his book that human society today is based on creating "fictions" and "trusting" them.
I think Daylight Saving Time is a simple example of this.
It is a system that exists because everyone works together to create the fiction that from today, we should move our clocks forward by one hour.
If you look at it from the perspective of nature, there is no boundary between what happened yesterday and what will happen today, but people just decided, "Let's change the time from today.
It's the same with the New Year.
When I lived in Japan, I didn't really recognize it, but when I moved to California, I found that there were many ethnic groups that spent January 1st, which is New Year's Day in Japan, as a normal day and rather celebrated the Chinese New Year.
I would say that means each community believes in a different fiction.
I'm not sure though.
Well, let's get back on daylight saving time.
In the U.S., it starts on the second Sunday in March, so this year it starts on March 14. At 2:00 am on that day, you are supposed to set your clocks forward one hour.
The clocks on your phone and computer will automatically adjust to Daylight Saving Time, but other clocks will have to be set by you.
If I don't do it right away, it becomes a hassle, so I try to do it as soon as possible, but sometimes I forget to change the time on some clocks, which often causes confusion when I need to know the time.
My husband doesn't change the time at all.
Instead, he asks, "Should I look at the time an hour earlier? Can I trust these numbers as they are? I'm a little confused".
I think it would be more efficient to take the time to change them, but we are both adults now, so I don't interfere.
In the past, when I was much younger, I did not want to live my life tied to the hands of a clock.
Even now, I still have some of that tendency.
However, in today's society, where we all create the fiction of the clock and believe in it, it is quite difficult to not be bound by the hands of the clock.
It is difficult to live without the hands of the clock. I think that if everyone started to do this in different ways, society would not be able to function properly.
But at the same time, I remembered a newspaper article about a company that regularly changed the departments of its employees.
It was an article that said, as I recall, that the company did not discuss with each employee in advance what department they wanted to be assigned to next, but when they were asked about their requests for department changes, the requests were not concentrated in any one department.
Perhaps, deep down, society is designed to function naturally and harmoniously when people are allowed to be free?
For that to happen, human society needs to evolve more and more, and everyone needs to be able to trust themselves, others, and maybe even something bigger than that.
However, I think that one day, in the distant future, we will be able to realize a world where we can naturally cooperate with each other without having to clearly state "fictions" like "you must follow this rule".
With this dream in mind, I set my clock forward one hour on the first Sunday of March again this year.
It is the beginning of summer in 2021.