I have trouble remembering people. I forget their names, I forget their faces. It takes me a long time to link a person’s face to a name, whereas other people I know in similar circumstances will just get it right the first time. But I remember locations instantly.
I notice this every time that we’re talking about restaurants. People will ask me if I know restaurant ‘A’ and I will tell them that I never heard of it, but then they tell me that it’s the place between the supermarket and the convenience store, and then I suddenly remember. As far as locations go, I’m pretty confident about my navigational ability, and I have never in my life had to use a map to go to the same location twice. Roads, paths, places, they stick in my brain quite well. I’m a locationophile.
I’ve lived in Japan for four years now, and my situation has been quite unique. New people come and go every year, and I have to deal with my friends leaving again and again. The first year this was an unexpected feeling that I did not really know how to handle, the second year really hurt, the third year I got used to it and the fourth year I no longer cared. People leaving is just part of life. Even at university and at high school you rarely get to be with the same people for a very long time, except for a select few. Perhaps, if I’d chosen to hang out with the regulars four years ago I would have had a stable circle of friends, and my personality might have changed to accomodate this ‘love of people’, but it didn’t. Every year here my attitude was one of “This will be the last year, so there’s no use getting close to the people here”. It’s funny how, despite this attitude, I somehow gained some very good friends here.
The point I was trying to make, though, is that if I left this place, I would miss the place, not the people. I’ve already gotten used to people leaving, and the place is still here. I go to the convenience store at midnight, remember the past times when I used to do that with a friend. Sometimes I walk past the apartment building where some friends used to live. For me, all of these good memories are as much associated with the place as they are with the people. Perhaps that’s the reason why I’m still living in my tiny room in the youth heim.
Most people are sad when their friends disappear, but they won’t think twice about moving to somewhere else. For me it’s the opposite. (Local) friends are not the constant in my life, the places where we used to hang out are the constant. Throwing away the place that I call home is just as difficult for me as it would be for someone else to terminate a longstanding friendship. I used to think that my lifestyle in Japan was the cause of this, but now I think that my personality is the cause, and my lifestyle in Japan is just the effect.
What do you feel attached to? People? Places? Things? And why? Do you believe it’s because you were always like this, or because of your (recent) lifestyle? Do you feel happy about it?
(I really wish I could remember people’s names better!)