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My American Life

By Miwa Waters
One of my many dreams while growing up was to live in a foreign country. Japan has a beautiful, attractive culture and tradition. It is safe, prosperous, convenient and efficient. But most cities are very busy, noisy and crowded. When I was young, I liked efficiency and enjoyed life in Japan. However, I did not like some aspects. One of them is old-fashioned working circumstance for me. Men and women were not equal, and to continue to work after childbearing was difficult. Furthermore, Japanese care about public image, and they dedicate themselves to their companies to keep stable employment. Even, if they sacrifice their own life. I became tired of being in that circumstance. I was very interested in life in a foreign country. The United States attracted me, because I had heard that it is a strong, free country. Americans love their families more than work and they express feelings honestly without caring what others think. I started to research on how to achieve my goal. Two years later, I found a volunteer job in Costa Rica: I applied and after six months was chosen. Even if it is not in the U.S, life in a foreign country would be good, I thought. My children were upset, because they needed to leave their close friends. But I persuaded them, and in 2004, we left Japan deciding I would never come back to live.

Two years in Costa Rica changed my life. When we arrived, everything was fascinating, beautiful nature, and passionate people. I was impatient before I lived in Costa Rica. I changed and learned how to express my feelings openly and honestly. Many young Japanese believe a peaceful and prosperous life is not difficult, but it was. I have many wonderful memories and important experiences. Thinking objectively, I can reconsider that Japan is a good country. However, I still did not want to live there again. After the contract expired in Costa Rica, I met an American man. We fell in love, and I came back to Japan one month later and married him. I obtained my green card, and moved to the U.S. with my children. That was the start of my American life.

It was November 30th of 2007 when we set foot in America as immigrants with a one-way ticket. I shouted in my mind, “What an exciting life! I don’t need to worry about public opinion. Even though I cannot communicate well in English, I can still find work, and adjust to life here.” This was my expectation. But soon, I faced a heavy tragedy. My husband fell suddenly ill two weeks after we arrived. I did not know what to do. While in the hospital, I could not understand exactly what the doctors and nurses were explaining to me. Cancer had suddenly appeared. The doctor said he had a half of a year to live. Soon he could not think correctly from the strong medication. Reality was not kind to us. He passed away at the hospice just two months after we started living in the U.S.

I had no time to adjust to daily life. Many bills arrived in the mailbox. I needed to communicate with many Americans to survive with my children, and it was difficult. My family and friends in Japan told me I should come back home, but I never thought about going back. I had not achieved anything in this new world (U.S.). I had many things to do. First, I had to pay my housing loan, and living costs. Because of my short marriage period, I could not get any life insurance, pension, or even his social security benefit. All I got was a small house with a big loan, which I could not sell. I did not have a job and started to use my savings from Japan. I applied for many jobs, but I could not succeed, because my English was not good enough, and there were few opportunities in southwest Florida for my profession.

While I was in this hard time, I met my current husband. When my previous husband was in bed in the hospital, he said an angel was around me, and God let the angel come down to him to assist for his last moment. I am not religious basically, but I believe in destiny which someone or something superhuman conducts. If I call it destiny, then destiny selected one American man whose life was short, and one Japanese woman who wanted to leave her country and let them meet to help each other. The meeting with my current husband was also conducted by destiny. He supported me and helped with my depression. We made plans, and selected the best place for our survival. We decided on Washington State, which is nearer to Japan, and has more Japanese people with more job opportunities. After we moved, my husband and I also landed new jobs, and my children attended new schools. Things began to go well. But still, to communicate in English was difficult. Not to understand what people are talking about means not only inconvenience, but also I felt isolated. I am now happier and living my dream, which beats the isolated feelings I used to experience.

Here, there are many good parts as I expected. America is magnanimous; I found a new job although I am a woman, and not young. I am married with a nice American man, although I am in my fifties with two children. These would have been very difficult, back in Japan. Whenever I discover American tradition and culture, I am always impressed, and this makes me excited. My next goal is to live the same as American people, and enjoy life here. My children can choose where they live in the future. I created the base for them. I will enjoy American life and if new destiny comes, I will be willing to try it with my beloved American husband.