It has been more than a month since I left my internship at MORIUMIUS in Miyagi, Japan. Here, now, I am different, changed in ways both seen and unseen.
I don’t eat meat anymore. Almost as soon as I left, the pigs I had been taking care of–without a doubt the smartest and the sweetest animals I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing–were shipped off to the slaughterhouse. That’s just the way it is, I know, but now I can’t have meat on my plate without seeing their faces.
I don’t hate walking like I used to. I carry a water bottle now, haven’t used a plastic bottle in ages. I can’t live without the taste of fresh air.
I know what it’s like to live in a town where everybody knows everybody. I’ve heard stories of loss and devastation, about earthquakes and tsunamis sure to happen again in the imminent future. I know what it’s like to cry in front of people.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with top companies, to speak with their exceptional employees. I’ve had the opportunity to meet people I love. I’ve felt how it feels to live in a dream, to constantly wonder how in the world I have been graced with such an immense fortune; to wonder if it is all real.
One word: gratitude.
I remember one morning, we helped set up for uni-matsuri, the local Sea Urchin festival. At 5:30 AM, we were already late. Hoards of locals, the same people we had met over and over again during our work around the town, were gathered at the town port, forming, filling, closing, and stacking boxes upon boxes of sea urchin to sell. We all, each and every person, knew and worked with each other. I felt a new kind of camaraderie, something you would only ever be able to find in a place like Ogatsu.
After we finished setting up, a fisherman took us for a ride on his boat. It was still only about 6:00 AM, and the sky was still a grayish-light blue. On the boat, the morning air was crisp and clean and the breeze felt fresh on our faces. As we cruised at the elderly fisherman’s super speed, we felt the waves flow beneath us, the first warmth of the whitish-yellow light as the sun rose into early morning. At first I panicked because I didn’t have my phone, but then I realized how silly I was. To this day still, I’ve never forgotten how that boat ride felt, how beautiful that morning was.
I suppose that’s how my memories of MORIUMIUS will be–built into my mind like this moment, a part of me.