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August 25, 2005

I left the island on Monday of last week, but have been unable to update this site until now due to the internet connection at my new flat being destroyed by lightning last week. Oddly enough, the last (and only other) time I was inconvenienced by lightning was just over two years ago – the week before I arrived on my island. Being inconvenienced by lightning again the week after I leave the island is just one more of the odd pieces of symmetry that seem to surround my time here.

Leaving the island after two years was very strange. Pulling out of the harbour is so familiar that it was hard to believe that this time my ticket was only one-way. In fact – gothic and melodramatic though it might sound – as the boat pulled away and the island began to dwindle, it felt strangely like dying must sometimes feel: a stream of realisations that things I’d been meaning to do some day will now probably be left undone. Never did climb that hill over there; never did swim round that peninsula, go down that path, explore that piece of woodland; never did make it out to those tiny islands on the edge of the reef. Still, I suspect that feeling is probably to some extent inevitable and I’m currently too excited about the afterlife to miss the island much yet, though I’m sure I will when I get back to the UK.

I’m now in my new flat in Naha, the prefectural capital, on the Okinawan mainland. I am also, for the most part, now a man of leisure: I will be based here until October, during which time I will be studying Japanese, planning my travels in China (which is where I will be going in October), and hopefully doing some more diving before I leave for lands with colder, dirtier seas. I will also be doing a bit more travelling in Japan. In fact, as I write this, I really should be packing, because I have a one-way ticket to Osaka, leaving tomorrow morning. Probably for a week or so, but I’m going to play it by ear. I’ll be meeting k in Osaka, then Graeme in Kyoto. In the last few days I’ve managed to discharge almost all remaining responsibilities, and I’m excited to finally have a bit of time to make it up as I go along.

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