Back to normal, I guess. We started school on Tuesday after a teacher catch up day on Monday. Monday and Tuesday we shared stories with teachers and kids. We all have a story to tell. Teachers who left. Teachers who stayed. Generally, everyone was happy to be back. All teachers were there, minus one who remained in Australia with his family. And the Tuesday with the kids. We talked about their extended vacation and where they were…Bali, Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore, Paris, Korea and some in Yokohama. The kids, as usual were animated and excited to be back. We drew out feelings about words like “earthquake” “tsunami” “nuclear reactors” and then some feelings began to come out. I had them put their heads down and asked if they were still scared. Blind count was that yes, they were scared. Most thought that another earthquake would occur again soon. Most, though, were happy to be back.
Yokohama was beautiful last week. Sunny skies. Sakura (cherry) trees in bloom. It was good to be back. Everything seems to be getting back to normal. Our elementary school play began practice again (they were scheduled for opening night on the day of the earthquake). We’re back into full gear on our 5th grade Exhibition. After school activities begin again. And we move forward.
Thursday night, another aftershock woke us up. A 7.1 is now not feeling as big anymore. It was a windy evening, and we’ve all been struggling with jet lag, so went to bed early. Somewhere around 11:40 we felt the house shaking more than the wind. Ceci has been sleeping on a mattress on our floor. I did my instinctual jump over Ceci to protect her, a motherly instinct but probably not effective. Our house shook for a minute, and we didn’t leave our room nor get under anything because there wasn’t anything to get under. Then, we settled back to sleep.
Because of the aftershock, Friday, the end of our first “normal” week back had a bit of an edge to it. It made me realize that we’re not done yet with earthquakes, with potential tsunamis and with the continuing radiation threat. We’re back to normal in a sense, but you can’t help but have changed. Friday afternoon, a month since the earthquake, we sat with all of our kids again, reflecting about Exhibition. We were all grouped together in one classroom, with the desks pushed back. I couldn’t help thinking about what we would do if another earthquake happened, right then. We couldn’t scurry for the desks because there weren’t enough of them and they were too hard to get to. We would stay right there, I thought, ducked down with our heads covering our head. I thought about the book Little Bee that I read recently, and how Little Bee was always thinking about how to be safe from the “men.” I was doing the same thing but figuring out how to be safe in an earthquake. I’ve already mapped out tsunami scenarios also.
So, we are back to normal, but something’s different now. There’s still uncertainty. We’re not in control, and I know that we never really are. However, there’s something about the ground shaking underneath your feet that really drives home that you’re not in control. With the nuclear situation, I’m not sure who is in control, but it feels as if the government is more than me. They decided to put up the nuclear plants. They decided on the locations of those nuclear plants. The media is also in control of what information I hear, and I know from stories at school that where you get your news can change lives. We have some families not returning to school because their company says it’s not safe. Their company is in control, based on reports by the media? the government?
Since returning, I’ve given up some control. I’m eating what’s in the stores, I’m drinking the water. Ceci is too. We’re living, knowing that we can only do that.