The other weekend, James and I - James is a friend, from Chicago; every single student in my school has independently decided he is my boyfriend and likes to begin conversations with me with the words, 'so, your boyfriend...' in order to watch me wave my arms around and shout, 'NOT MY BOYFRIEND!', although this pronouncement has deterred precisely no one so far - decided that after a couple of months living in Nagasaki, we really had to do the tourist thing, and went to walk around the Peace Park and atomic bomb epicentre.
I'm not gonna turn this into an anecdote. I wouldn't want to. It was sad, and important. It was also so much more about peace and hope than it was about death and hatred; I didn't really expect that.
For a while, these past few years, I forgot to be hopeful. I forgot how to be hopeful. There were times I wondered how anyone went on living, day after day after day; I looked at old people on the street and wondered how on earth they'd endured life for so long. I wondered how they could stand it, when my heart sank in the morning when I realised I'd woken up. And the truth is that I hate talking about this, but I suppose I should; because I know that you can't erase grief or misery - like you can't undo death or suffering - so you have to learn from it. You have to turn it into something hopeful, and resolve not to make the same mistakes again, and suddenly life and joy and peace seem so much more precious, so much more beautiful for the knowledge that they are not permanent, and they are definitely not guaranteed.
I thought you had to have grand adventures, like in books, for your life to feel important. Real life seemed mechanical and predictable; unless you went to Hogwarts or lived in Middle Earth, it was pretty much gonna be a bitch and then you die. But there is dancing, and yakitori, and finding yourself able to piece together meaning from a Japanese magazine, and planning Halloween parties, and putting way too much thought into planning Halloween parties, and new countries; paper cranes and cheesy films and cups of tea so large that people laugh at you. It's not world-changing, but it's important. It's something. And life isn't what I always thought it was.