In August of 2008, I packed as much of my stuff as I could into two suitcases and moved my entire life to Japan. I'd been feeling restless after graduating from university and figured that going out to teach in a foreign country and see the world was the way to scratch the itch. At first, I thought it was hands down the worst decision I had ever made in my life, but as I began to make friends and travel and become a better teacher, I slowly fell in love with my life there. The first year was rocky, but the second year got off to a great start - I was doing well at work, I was finally recovered from a broken foot, and I went on a couple of fun trips including a trip to the mountains to go paragliding. My best friend/former roommate/current blog partner Candice came over to see me for my birthday. I was thinking about other places I could travel to, maybe spend a year in South Korea teaching or go to Australia for a working holiday.
On the second day of Candice's visit, I got a call from my dad. My mother had died quite unexpectedly of a heart attack.
Of course, everything came to a screeching halt. We somehow stumbled through the rest of the week, then flew to the US. I decided pretty much immediately that I was going to move home. I returned to Japan two weeks after my mother's funeral and told my boss that I would be leaving the company right before Christmas. I spent the next two months in a fog, waiting until I could be with my family again.
When I came home, I was still pretty shell-shocked. I went to parties where I'd sneak off to cry. I wasn't drinking too much, but it was hard not to try and find some way to drown how sad I was. I live with my father and brother in the house I grew up in. The loss of my mother is tangible here. Her things are still in the closet, her pictures are everywhere. She died here. It was really hard to deal with how suddenly my life had changed - I felt like I didn't belong here anymore, even though Austin is my hometown. For a while, the grief was even worse because I really had to face it. I started trying to move forward step by step though. I spent a few weeks lying around doing nothing, took a trip to Portland and Seattle to see friends, and ended up getting a job as a nanny through a friend of a friend. I joined a gym, my friends invited me out and didn't mind that sometimes I cried in public. I started attending grief counseling.
Then, one night, I went ice skating with some friends. Now, my brother played hockey for ten years, so I grew up around ice rinks. I took lessons as a kid. I've always loved figure skating, but for some reason kept it a secret. Then, when idly talking with Candice, I discovered that Chaparral holds basic skating classes for adults. We signed up, started going skating regularly, and discovered how awesome it is. I love skating - when I get going really fast and just let myself glide with my arms out, it's like flying. So yeah. One year, one Olympic level element. We're gonna do it.