Every season has a smell. Some are more distinct than others, but every season seems to possess it's own permeating essence.
They are subtle smells, but they definitely exist.
This year, I am learning and collecting the smells of Japan. In the spring, it was the smell of the cherry blossoms. Summer radiated the incense of the humid lotus fields and brought a consistent ocean breeze. Autumn brought the smell of roasting hazelnuts and maple trees. Now, as the breezes get colder and Christmas carols fill the air, I find myself re-learning the smells of a Japanese winter.
It's funny actually, I was in Japan last winter too...but this year, I find myself noticing the little nuances of where I live. Maybe I was too preoccupied last winter. Perhaps I was so focused on getting back to the States in the summer, I forgot to savor the moment. I'm not sure I can pin down the exact reason why.
I was adjusting.
I was not quite sure about calling this little Japanese seaside town home.
But now, I am without qualms.
Today, as I walked to work, I couldn't help but look out over the bay and mountains beyond and feel a sense of complete belonging.
I know I talk about this quite a lot in this little space. But here it is again:
I love where I live.
Maybe it doesn't have to do so much with the appearance of where I live as it does with the depth of where I live.
It's the depth found in the Japanese lifeguards who call themselves my "ライフガード父" or "lifeguard fathers"
or my 日本人おばあちゃん who came over to decorate Christmas cookies with us all afternoon.
It's the comfort found in not exactly fitting in, but by having a sense of purpose and belonging.
Because I can't say I fit in perfectly here.
But I sure do feel lucky to be an observer...a partaker for a time.
I feel lucky to be able to collect the smells of Japan.
Because one day, when I am on the other side of the world somewhere, I'll catch a whiff...a small, subtle hint of my past Japanese life...and I'll be reminded of it all.
And I think I'll miss it terribly.
So for now, I breathe deeply.
I breathe in the sea breezes, and the smell of warm, roasting chestnuts. I inhale the lotus fields, and the smell of warm coffee in the guard lounge as I discuss Japanese politics with my lifeguards.
I breathe the comfort of feeling like I belong. The comfort of knowing I'm exactly where I should to be - the peace that comes with knowing I'm going in the perfect direction.
I breathe in the changes and the seasons...I breathe the smells of Japan.