-
It had been a while. The sights and sounds filled the space around me. I knew them, and it reassured their existance.
I found myself here again.

--

I didn't know what to do. I was walking with no particular destination. Life had delt me a hand that I had no idea what to do with. I wanted to cry. For the first time in over a year, I had something real to cry about. The more I thought about it, the more it made less sense why I should have actually cried. But still, I couldn't do anything about what happened, and I didn't know what to do. Should I tell Laura and Aaron? How would I tell them? Was there any way to do it without sounding like the barer of bad news? Who could I tell now to get some help? I was helpless.

I slowly made my way to the train sation. It was somewhere else than I thought it was. I didn't have a clear of a memory as I thought I did. I couldn't explain to them everything about what I just went through...it was hard.

---

From my window, I could the times square. The building was huge, but wasn't the largest. The wind and air came into my room. I hadn't listened to the CD yet, but I didn't feel like it was needed. The intro, with the sounds of the people and the movement was all that encompassed this city. When I moved on, and it felt right, I would take it out and listen, for her.

----

We rode a tour bus into the city, a hour long drive. It started off with rice fields and huge power plants. As we drove closer to the city, we could see more hotels, pachinko palors, buildings, lighted signs. But the rainy weather seemed to keep our joy limited. I felt excited and happy to be back, while everyone else was tired and weary from traveling all day.

The sights I remembered. I thought back to when Aaron was next to me, and we sat and analyzed all of the architeure and roads around us. We could tell that we were in Japan, and we made it. The man talking to us in the front could take our attention from the brand new world we were in. his voice melded in and out of the speakers just like we hit waves of cilization and fields. It was a rush.

I tried to feel the same from these people. I felt the same rush as "I made it", but the level of accomplishment wasn't the same. It felt like I came back to finish soemthing, the sequel of a story, and the last chapter.

-----

The group of us slowly after a while found the back of the house. After seeing the graves and the wells and trees,
we all collected on the mats infront of a lawn that had a single stone piece with the backdrop of many green trees.
At the begining some were being noisy, but some time later, they too were just sitting there. I don't know if they all had the right idea of why to be quite- whether it was for the beautey and power, or if it was for the group,
I knew that there was something special there.

------

Since the three of us decided we'd be okay with rooming in a hotel room together, we got the four bed, two bed suite. We were esctatic to discover how the room was almost a paradise. TV, heater, toilitries, pajamas, and everything ready for us. After a while, the other guys (and towards the end, the girls too) wanted to see our room and it automatically became the place to be. Jokes were told, laugter could be heard, all with the background of the good radio music. We couldn't have been happier with the way things came out.

Things were a little more calm in the hotel. They were an exciting adventure, like the events that took place outside. instead, they were pleasent, and still unforgettable. Somethings happened there will always be in our memory as a great time.

-------

On the way home, we stopped by the ocean. The side walk on the way there was made so that sometimes the waves would cover half of what was built. I could see what was washed up.

I could feel the tension building in the train ride there. I wondered what it would have been like. The day before filled me with some sort of excitement. I was returning to the place of my dreams. It was like I was going backwards.First the ocean, then the balcony. Last year, it was the other way around. But after a bit, I just stopped, and listened to the sea.

--------

Twice in one on night. Two highs of picking my favorite songs and being able to sing them. I got to here my friends voices and realized how good they were. I couldn't think about what was going to go on afterwards. It was our last night with our families. Some of us would be sad, but what could you do about it? After this, we were on our own again, and in my eyes, I couldn't wish for anything else.

---------

Our teacher rushed us onto the train, to make sure nothing went wrong. We could feel ourselves getting worked up to.
I didn't even notice that we started moving before I sat down. The train would be traveling around 200 miles per hour. It was one of the most efficient modes of transportation available, and it would bring us where we needed to go.

----------

Unlike Tokyo, this town was big, but not so chaotic. The air was not so polluted, and the streets seemed friendlier.
There were still lights, and sounds to hear, but it was more moddest. From the top of the train sation, about eight floors, we could see the sun setting, and the clouds that were outlined could be seen to form a giant mountain in the distance.

on the walk down, it was only Eric, Luci and I. Being tired, we decided to sit down, and ended up laying in the middle if the stair way. For almost an hour, we all talked and grew closer. It reminded me a bit of Aaron and Laura...but I knew I wasn't reliving the past. I found the humor in being in a group of three again, and enjoyed the moment. The sun continued to light up the sky as it drew closer to the hills. The town's lights slowly came on,
and we eventually had to sit up, after saying, "fuck you" to life.

-----------

There was a knock on our hotel door. The three girls by response ran into the bathroom. It was the principle and our Teacher. Shit. As they walked in to talk to us about the next, and last day, the girls closed the bathroom door and gathered in the tub.

We didn't have anything to hide...except the fact that we were hiding three girls.

Luckily, our story about them deciding to go to the convience store worked. After the chaparones left, we had the girls use the emergency exit stairway and take the elevator up. The teacher found them and gave the spiel about the next day.

They never found out. Just like the beer in the fridge that Brad accidently bought and never poured down the drain.

------------

That's when I felt the need to listen to the CD. We were on the bus to the World Expo. A place where the highest technologies were to be show cased and all the countries in the world could show off. It just felt right.

-------------

It was the morning I left. I got all my stuff together. I couldn't brush my teeth because I packed my brush too far down in my bag. No body talked in the car ride to the station. There was no reason to speak. We all got something out of me being there, but I was eager to leave, and I think Kotchan would be able to relax when I left. He wouldn't feel so pressured to speak English by his mother.

--------------

I felt sick on the ride to the Airport in Osaka. The hotel breakfeast was rank. I tried to drink the orange juice and all it did was upset me more. Our teacher gave us high expectations of the meal, and they were let down.

Our teacher was going to stay in Kyoto, where he grew up, and visit family. That meant he gave us a goodbye speach and tried to make us realize all of the things we got out of the two weeks. We were all too tired, and many of us sad, to want to remember. We all piled on the bus and tried to tune out the other noisey American kids in the front of the bus.

The other kids who came with the same organization...didn't understand what it meant to be a citizin of the world.
It meant that you knew who you were- a person, not a part of a country. You didn't have the right to be stupid because you came from America. You also didn't have the right to be ignorant and represent not only the nation, but the world as a whole.

Going home ment getting away from them, and getting back to people we knew and loved. All of those in a relationship missed their boyfriends and girlfriends. Those of us who didn't have them found the clean air inviting (as did everyone else). As a group, we didn't want to go back to everything, but we wanted to be home.

---------------

My mind wasn't thinking, and my heart didn't feel anything. Every step I took off of that train brought me closer to the place where I would think about at night and want to cry. The place where I realized that I could be happy, and found a place where it didn't hurt anyone to be happy. I even found people to be happy with. I didn't know what I'd do when I got there. Would I be happy again? Would I break into sobs because I missed Aaron and Laura? Would it bring all the other memories of my trip before back and make me realize all the things I've gone through? I didn't know. I didn't know how to know.

I saw the station that I snuck out an used. I saw the McDonalds that was a land mark to meet up at. I knew there was a Karaoke place around the cornever. I remembered the bridge at the end of the block. And most of all, I remembered the place where we crossed the street to the hotel...

---------------

I stepped off the plane. Being back home meant we were free. Last time, I was free when I left. But at this point,
the principle had no more duristiction over me. I walked down the stairs and look for people I saw. I knew I would see her, the girl I feared might make my world change. I felt it in my heart I would. I didn't want to talk with my best friend from the time I saw her.

But after she hugged me, and my best friend, I saw the people around me that I knew I loved because they weren't my friends just because of the situations. They hung out with me and knew who I was. They took me for the bitter and the sweet. I hugged all of them, they hugged me, and I even saw the girl who gave me the CD. I hugged her after we got out of the crowd. I was happy to see all the friendly places.

-----------------

silence.

It was broken. There was a fence set up around the property, and the balcony was completely torn down. I saw the stairway where I climbed to the top and saw Tokyo. They sat there, hanging.

I remember the inside of the building with all of the vending machines. I remembered my room where I could watch flashing lights in the night and skateboarders and buisness men in the evening.

My sanctuary, the place I dreamt about in my fantasies, wasn't there.

------------------

And some how, after writing all of this, I realize, that I will make it through. And something, something will be at the end. I feel it.