Answer: Very strange. (At least to me.)
It's weird around here and these are just a few of the reasons why:
* It's Spring. Allegedly. But it's still cold and dreary almost every day. The weather tries to warm up every so often, but then poops out and stays cold. The cherry blossoms popped and filled the base with pretty for a few days but they're already disappearing. It almost feels more like Fall.
*Things are--for the most part--back to normal around the base. Many of those who "voluntarily departed" have returned. But there are still a few friends and families who aren't back for various reasons. And they are missed.
*Most non-essential programs and services are back up and running. I started teaching pottery again this month! (Hooray!!!) But life still seems more subdued--and quieter somehow. It's like people feel a tiny bit guilty for continuing with life and doing fun things.
*At church, something like 75 people are leaving this summer. But only a few families have arrived so far to fill in the gaps. (I'm sure more will come--just like every year. But for awhile PCSing** into Misawa was put on hold and families were having to stay behind in the states while only the active duty spouse moved here.
* We are moving in 9.5 weeks. But we don't have a home to go to and haven't officially signed papers on a job. (Which is why I haven't announced where we're headed yet. It's not a sure thing. But we're planning on So. Cal. Fingers crossed!)
*Japan is still in desperate need of help. (See this very interesting Wash. Post article.) But the sense of urgency has dissipated. Although service projects are always in the works and volunteers are still doing clean up, it is no longer the sole topic of every conversation.
*There are far fewer aftershocks lately. But just enough good jolts to keep you slightly on edge. (An earthquake woke us up early two times this week.)
*I feel ready to leave Japan. I feel like we've made the most of our time here and seen everything we've wanted to see--done everything we wanted to do. And yet the thought of leaving is also daunting and depressing. There is a lot to look forward to, but a lot we're leaving behind and many people and things we'll miss. And it also feels wrong leaving with so much left un-done. Japan has not been fully healed and repaired and I feel like we're quitters for leaving so soon.
So you see what I mean? Strange!
**PCS=Permanent Change of Station. One of the first acronyms I learned when I got here because everyone said "Did you PCS in or are you just visiting?" My answer: blank stare.