My friend from way back in high school joined me for a couple of days at All Hands Tohoku. I showed her around and she settled into a spot next to my sleeping bag, and she said “… You’re a trooper. I couldn’t live like this for even a week!”
So that got me thinking about my current living situation, which I guess I have yet to blog about.
Half of the team lives at a rehab facility up in the hills of Ofunato which we call the FS center. We occupy two general rooms – they have sleeping rooms, but those are for clients and guests. We stay in their meeting room space. I’m in the small room, which houses about 16 of us. We have our sleeping bags towards the walls, our suit cases and junk around our bags, and a big laundry hanger across the middle of the room with our laundry hanging to dry. I have a cushy set up with a corner spot (more wall space!), a mat inherited by Sara Bareilles’ crew when they were here in May, my yoga mat on top of that, and a sleeping bag on top of that. Yes, this is about as good as it gets!! I do love my space We are co-ed and my neighbors are all boys. All of the bodily odors and noises you can imagine happen here, which I am frankly quite use to now. I did invest in a bottle of fabreeze today, I’m quite excited about that!!
We have a common room (another smaller meeting room) where we have our breakfast foods (bread, peanut butter and jam, raisin bran or oatmeal), a microwave, a tiny fridge and more laundry hangers. People gather and mingle, and the poker chips my colleague Aurora donated are in heavy use here. Earlier in the project, this was also the room to get Internet connection. But last month a satellite Internet company came and installed high speed Internet to the building for free, so ever since, I rarely go to the common room. Some people don’t even realize I live up at FS Center because I spend most of my time hunkered in my sleeping bag… By the end of the “work day” I lack energy to mingle… I usually get back around 8 or 9, take a bath, then play with my iPad or read until I fall asleep. Which is ridiculously early, since lights-out is at 10pm!
The bath and toilets are the reasons why I choose to live at FS Center and not at our base accommodations. We have one western toilet on our floor, and it is my life line. The other two are Japanese style, which requires squatting. I avoid these at all costs At base, we only have port-a-potties, across the street, with no lights. And they are Japanese style. I avoid these, period. (I bike to the train station during the day to use their bathroom!) They have bucket showers at base, but we at the FS center get to use the communal bath (no, it’s not co-ed thankfully). Yes, it took a while to get use to the idea of bathing with my teammates (max 3 at a time). But nowadays, I’ve gotten use to it, and occasionally when I have the place to myself, I thoroughly enjoy stretching out in the big tub and relaxing. Before 10pm, that is! (Baths also close at 10… Which is also the building curfew. My whole evening is planned around making sure I get in bed by 10pm!)
So that’s the gist of my living situation. We have a couple of soda vending machines down stairs, a book shelf full of old school manga that I’ve been reading, a park outside where we have bbqs sometimes. We have to walk down to the city area for any stores which is a pain, but it’s good exercise, especially biking up the hill (which I did twice today. I will be sore tomorrow!) I consider this set up quite luxurious, since when I first came here I was told we may not hove showers… And especially considering the destruction down in the valley along the water front, this is NICE! But yeah… Living with a bunch of people isn’t all fun, especially since I spent the last decade living alone. I am a bit of a hermit, living in my corner space in my sleeping bag, shutting out the rest of the world and all it’s noises and smells :)