Time

I’m not sure how to start this note. I just said goodbye to Dave on the bus, beginning his very long journey back to New York to be with family. We are grieving the loss of his mom, Gail, on Friday. Time is always short, but never more obviously and painfully than when a loved one departs.

I wish I could be there with Dave and his family. They took me in 14 years ago during a very difficult time. Our time together as a huge family – mine and Dave’s together for Thanksgivings on the beach in San Diego, Hawaii, and Washington rain forest fishing trips – is always cherished and is punctuated by hysterically convulsive laughter over something bizarre. I’m smiling now as I type, remembering Bill rubbing his hands together and repeating “our goose is cooked” in Coronado, and now I’m not even sure what he was lamenting? Was it the dog droppings in the grass outside our tiny home? Or me forgetting both turkeys in the sink instead of bringing them to the deep fryer on the beach? And Gail saw a pegasus – an actual pegasus – across the lawn at sunset on Lake Crescent. I will never forget her drawing me aside and whispering…”Alli?! I think that’s a PEGASUS, right?” Generous, kind, gentle soul, Gail, you are deeply missed. I love you. And I miss you.

Nana and PopPop with Sam and Ben at Bloedel.

Nana and PopPop with Sam and Ben at Bloedel.

PopPop enjoyed seeing the Space Needle with the boys :)

PopPop enjoyed seeing the Space Needle with the boys 🙂

Nana got right into the chicken tending business!

Nana got right into the chicken tending business!

 

I like this one

This one says so many things about what kind of time is important.

 

But, time has been on my mind as a recurrent theme and challenge for months. The time pressure to accomplish all the tasks necessary for the “hot fill” of our move was tremendous, not to mention maintaining work, family and community commitments, and certainly not least important, investing in friendships and ordering one’s inner world and mind. My life was pretty full already, and it got much more so over the summer and into this fall. It is only now that things are settling into a new routine, and in so doing I’m only just now recognizing how much I value having time to process things.

A run along the seawall, technically off base, but clearly bounded by the sea. A little terrifying to wonder what would happen if a big swell came...

A run along the seawall, technically off base, but clearly bounded by the sea. A little terrifying to wonder what would happen if a big swell came… I found a way down to this narrow concrete wall, then a spot I could get back in. I carry my ID all the time, but this adventure of zoning out and just going (the term “gypsy run” was coined by my friend Kumiko to describe these sojourns) ended up feeling more like a string of less-than-ideal choices.

 

Certain activities are more conducive to this sorting and sifting. Running is usually great, but running on base I have found to be too constraining, even on the “wrong side” of the seawall. Oddly, just knowing there is a fence around me tends to hem my thoughts. They can’t bound like deer on Bainbridge, unaware of property lines through the salal. Last week I ran off the base and just kept going south along the coast, through the shopping areas, fish markets, fishing spots, a dragonfly sewage treatment center, and schools, the scents and chimes of Japanese life surrounding me. I figured I’d just go and hop a bus or train back.

In Hashirimizu, looking back toward base in the far background.

In Hashirimizu, looking back toward base in the far background.

 

The boardwalk in Maborikaigan is wide and inviting. I ran to the end and contemplated turning back, but saw another Japanese runner and figured I’d follow him along his Thursday morning route. I ended up in Hashirimizu, a small coastal fishing village 9K away that is a bit oddly reminiscent of the North Shore of Hawaii. I didn’t realize I was near a park with roller slides the boys will love (Kannonzaki), nor a light house or art museum. I was attracted to the humble park and the bus stop with a queue (always a good sign, adding solid information to the inscrutable bus schedule – it means the bus is coming soon). I rode the bus back for a bit, but wanted to break free again. I jumped off 100yen later and jogged back, looking for the fish market. Back on base, 4 pounds of sweat lighter, I stayed in motion and raked up leaves, discovering a scented flower on a tree. I found out later this tiny orange blossom means fall has arrived. New scents beg to be tinctured…so I bought some cheap vodka at the Exchange. My thoughts continued to run to family and friends, and what this period in our lives is asking of us. In the pool Friday morning I was praying for Gail’s recovery, which seemed promising. I didn’t realize that while I was praying for her, and asking what our purpose should be here, that she had just departed.

Which brings me to the question of time, and what does all this mean. It takes time to discern new missions in life, and we must be open to them. We have to be faithful in listening, and being willing to answer a call even if we are not entirely clear on what that call is. When Dave and I got the call asking us if we’d consider moving to fill this job, we knew right away the answer was yes. What we didn’t know was how we’d manage it, how the kids would respond, how we would come together as a team, and what we would (or perhaps “should” is the better word) focus on while here for this chapter of our lives. Gail and Bill have focused on family and faith. Their example of a simple and steadfast focus is one I admire greatly.

We’ve been here just over a month. In that time we have made significant investments in effort to understand the language, learning three new character sets, ventured out among the people and the land jogging, hiking and shoveling (manure!). These forays help to make foreign skylines and signs more friendly. But there are surely even more substantive investments we’ll make. For now we are grateful for this time to listen and explore together as a family. And we are very thankful for friends Stateside who are willing to stay in touch with us and the kids.

It may not be something you take for granted yet, but do know that we love each of you and our thoughts are with you often as we think about what time it is there, how the kids are doing, how the hockey carpool is going, how the rink is, the friendly faces waiting there to greet us for a game…you are all missed tremendously as we try to assimilate here and fill in those holes in our lives. (This past weekend is an example – we feel like we had a 3-day weekend because we got up at 3am to travel to a hockey game on Sunday! You can get a lot of TIME back in your day if you ignore the clock and travel 4 hours roundtrip, play a hockey game, and get back by noon! ha! 😉 ) Those of you who have been friends in many states and pre-hockey, the same goes for you! As I unpacked pictures of hikes and babies in backpacks, I was happy to see your smiling faces once again on my nightstand, close to me. You are cherished friends. Thank you for being so.

Time…time to get to school and greet my boys! Enjoy these photos from the past 72 hours. More in the album above

BUT - what does all this mean practically? What can one do with this knowledge? READ THE TOILET PAPER ROLL HOLDERS AT 7/11! I can make out the initial sounds but didn't know what it meant. I took a picture and showed it to the other hockey parents - apparently this means "Thank you for keeping this place clean" or something like that. I need that here at home...

BUT – what does all this mean practically? What can one do with this knowledge? READ THE TOILET PAPER ROLL HOLDERS AT 7/11! I can make out the initial sounds but didn’t know what it meant. I took a picture and showed it to the other hockey parents – apparently this means “Thank you for keeping this place clean” or something like that. I need that here at home…

Ben and I are learning hiragana characters (one of three character sets in Japanese) - and MAN are we competitive! We're sitting outside Purdy Gym on Friday exclaiming to each other as we use an app to learn (% proficiency creeping up with each correct answer). He's a very fast learner. Kumiko was awake in her bed while we were learning so we pestered her with amateur attempts to say "where is Arlo?" or some such ;) Thanks, Kumiko! :)

Ben and I are learning hiragana characters (one of three character sets in Japanese) – and MAN are we competitive! We’re sitting outside Purdy Gym on Friday exclaiming to each other as we use an app to learn (% proficiency creeping up with each correct answer). He’s a very fast learner. Kumiko was awake in her bed while we were learning so we pestered her with amateur attempts to say “where is Arlo?” or some such 😉 Thanks, Kumiko! 🙂

 

Here we are today - Sunday 10/2 - walking to the Saitama Ageo Sports Park for a hockey game. The dry land started at 0600...so we had to get up at 3:10 this morning. OMG. This is after driving up to Yokohama and back on Sat evening for practice. Kind of one of those weekends you through to check it out, if not to make every future weekend rather pale in comparison. It won't likely be much more grueling than this... We like to dive deep. ;0

Here we are today – Sunday 10/2 – walking to the Saitama Ageo Sports Park for a hockey game. The dry land started at 0600…so we had to get up at 3:10 this morning. OMG. This is after driving up to Yokohama and back on Sat evening for practice. Kind of one of those weekends you gut through to check it out, if not to make every future weekend rather pale in comparison. It won’t likely be much more grueling than this… right? 😉 We like to dive deep. ;0

But the payoff? Sam getting to actually play a game with his team and show his coaches what he can do. A rainbow, which evolved into something even more astounding...

But the payoff? Sam getting to actually play a game with his team and show his coaches what he can do. A rainbow, which evolved into something even more astounding…

A double - and some said triple - rainbow! New hockey friends and boys having a good time exploring their new land. This rainbow made me think of a similar image of Bremerton.

A double – and some said triple – rainbow! New hockey friends and boys having a good time exploring their new land. This rainbow made me think of a similar image of Bremerton.

The game against the Saitama Warriors (what!? really? I had to zip up my jacket quick to cover up my WSHC Warriors gear!) went well - we won 8-3. Sam held his own and was very happy to play. Many videos are in the album.

The game against the Saitama Warriors (what!? really? I had to zip up my jacket quick to cover up my WSHC Warriors gear!) went well – we won 8-3. Sam held his own and was very happy to play. Many videos are in the album.

 

This is our lawn, looking toward the rest of the cul de sac. The house just past ours has a hockey dad from NJ in it! Amazing!

This is our lawn, looking toward the rest of the cul de sac. The house just past ours has a hockey dad from NJ in it! Amazing!

This is me and Hayashi-san, the team manager for the A (select) team. We swapped favorite snacks this weekend - I was thanking her for all she does for the team. I well know what it's like to roll in four new players - new jerseys, socks, rosters for tournaments, payments, questions, etc. etc. She brought me Hokkaido corn. Hokkaido is the northern island and hockey (and all snow sports) are big there. She is a very energetic and happy lady. You can hear her voice easily calling out through the rink!

This is me and Hayashi-san, the team manager for the A (select) team. We swapped favorite snacks this weekend – I was thanking her for all she does for the team. I well know what it’s like to roll in four new players – new jerseys, socks, rosters for tournaments, payments, questions, etc. etc. She brought me Hokkaido corn. Hokkaido is the northern island and hockey (all snow sports) are big there. She is a very energetic and happy lady. You can hear her voice easily calling out through the rink!

We are on our way back home now. Shockingly - back by noon and already up 9 hours with a hockey game and 4 hrs driving under our belts.

We are on our way back home now. Shockingly – back by noon and already up 9 hours with a hockey game and 4 hrs driving under our belts.

Time to make eggs, wash gear, catch a cat nap and occupy a bustling neighborhood of kids with yard work for yen! (Money really DOES grow on trees for them!)

Time to make eggs, wash gear, catch a cat nap and occupy a bustling neighborhood of kids with yard work for yen! (Money really DOES grow on trees for them!)

5 Comments
  1. You are amazing Allison!
    Time, very philosophical sharing, and it is short in the eternal dimension. So we need to be sure our time is invested in the service of our Lord Jesus. Sorry about the loss of Gail here, but it sounds that she is with our Lord for which you all can have peace and joy in this. I/we remember you guys in prayers for safety and great experiences over there. Loving you all muchly, Bill grandpa pops

  2. Ali, I’m so sorry about Dave’s mom. Thank you for this beautiful blog and for sharing so eloquently with us. We miss you all! Jenn Kim

  3. wow – what a whirlwind – thanks for the honesty about time – and i’m so sorry for all of you about dave’s mom –
    hockey is rocking along, and the late nights here sound like nothing compared to a 3 am wake up there – the kids are growing and getting better with all of these practices, and the games started last weekend for house and this weekend for B. miss you guys!

  4. So sorry to hear about Dave’s family. Our condolences. I also won’t be complaining about our early games anymore.

    Max want to know if Sam speaks Japanese yet. 🙂

  5. No, but Ben and I are learning to read Hiragana and speak it every chance we get, probably much to the annoyance of people behind us at toll booths (opportunity to test numbers!).

    All our love to you!
    Alli

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