And, overnight, an email arrives from S. letting me know that things are OK, and, as far as I can tell, there are no hard feelings.
Looks like there’s some spirited discussion over on the comments to the last thing I posted! I’ll chime in a bit here:
I contacted my other friends who I had been ignoring for a while because my GF got on my case while I was in Arizona a couple of weeks ago . . . based on your letter lily! so yes, you absolutely had something to do with it. :) Was my life that overwhelming? To a degree, yes. As I mentioned, I had at least a partial breakdown while at my last job, and while I was in-between that one and my current job, I was pretty depressed. You’d think I would lean on my old friends for help, but rather, I have this habit of simply trying to deal with it myself, and often not too successfully. I’m not quite “too proud to ask for help,” but more likely “too frightened of burdening others” and “too used to dealing on my own.” My GF will attest to the fact that I certainly leaned on her a bit, perhaps too much . So yeah, I’ve learned my lesson there.
But I also wasn’t careful about the separation I made when I left the US; I fully intended to keep up with my friends, and weed out the people I didn’t feel like communicating with (common enough, I’ve moved almost every year since 1991). Instead, I got immediately overwhelmed by the amount of email I had to deal with, and kept putting it off because it was way too intimidating (and my email interface sucked ass.) With a day of serious determination, I managed to clean it all up, so in the end it wasn’t all that hard to do. I guess, in the end, it was more of a realization that I was afraid my former friends would be just that — former. I was afraid that the decisions I had made in life would let people down, and rather than diminish myself in their views, I’d let them go on remembering me the way I was. That’s the fatal mistake, because good friends wouldn’t act that way.
I’ve managed over the years to stay in touch with a few people for much longer than a year or two, my oldest friend being from 1982. That shows that, in the end, I stay in touch with people I care about – it’s just that I’ve taken a hiatus here for a while. Looking back over my own personal history, I have a habit of doing this, not because I don’t need friends, but because I get caught up in a particular situation: graduate school, a job, a particular mate, etc. Achieving balance has been one of my key issues for years, and the older I get, the easier it seems to achieve. My GF had a great idea on my birthday a couple weeks ago; rather than having new year’s resolutions, have birthday resolutions. One was to keep in touch with the people (and institutions) that I care about. I’d say I’m doing a far better job now than I was at the start of this year.
Onto U.S. politics: I’m glad to hear that not everyone in the US is a right militant bastard. The general reaction to the US here in Japan, as far as I can tell from my immediate friends, is that the US is reacting out of proportion to the threat it received, and that the expansion of the effort into other regions (the famous “axis of evil” quote) is going way too far. Countries like Japan feel a bit bullied into helping out, and while no one here actually supports terrorism, they certainly don’t go out of their way to support the military action. I also don’t think that the locals here expect the US to help them survive or defend their borders; that sort of protectorate concept went out the door with the British leaving Hong Kong in 1999. There’s a growing movement in Japan to kick the US out of Okinawa (fueled by the absolute atrocities committed by horny US service men, search the Japan Times or Yahoo for references) and establish a military again, and these actions might actually increase those sentiments.
I’m a bit closer to canongrrl’s ideas here, mostly because it rings true. For all the social and political tolerance the US professes, things are certainly different when it comes to foreign policy, protecting industry interests (Enron anyone? No one here trusts the Bush government now because of Enron). It’s that duplicity that bothers me in any culture, even here, what with the environmental disaster, Nanking, the yakuza influence, control of the press by private interests, etc. It’s all clear to me, and no location is a panacea. Nor am I about to suggest some Utopian, Objectivist anarchic society that only exists in the mind of some twisted, sexually deprived author. My GF is right; I’m not going to give up my citizenship so soon over this. Now, the Defense Of Marriage Act, or the Marriage Amendment – those are an entirely different matter, and in fact the reason I started thinking about other countries. The whole Afghani nonsense just contributed to my sentiments.
Phew, time for a drink…bbiab.