My son has finally traveled to Japan last Monday.

His flight took off from the Terminal 3 in Guarulhos International Airport at around 2 PM, and the previous hours before the take off were filled with emotion. He was very anxious. So much that one could cut his anxiety with a knife if they wanted to. I totally understand that sensation: his trip, after all, represents the crowning, the award after all the effort he’s put into studying Japanese, taking test after test and conquering a spot among those awarded with the so dreamed MEXT scholarship.

As for the three of us who remain in Brazilian lands, there was plenty of emotion, too. His younger brother, accustomed to playing soccer, video games and to do pretty much a lot of things along with him, took his 10 extra seconds standing at the fence which separates the passengers-only area (past the boarding gate) from the general air terminal area, looking to the exact point where my son turned, carrying his luggage and disappearing into the boarding area, as if picturing that moment in his mind.

When I asked him why he took 10 or so extra seconds there, he was succinct: “I was reflecting”. And when I asked him about what, he said it was private. To which I answered we’d have time to miss him together, as a family. We then traveled back home to be greeted with signs of his absence. I know the situation isn’t supposed to be sad, and all, but come on… no parents that I’ve ever met ever knew about a manual for such situations… besides, everyone absorbs such occasions differently. It was a little hard and it took me some time until I could finally process neither of us has lost him. It is only that his (adult) life is now beginning, and ours goes on.

The flight to Japan, which was a two-part trip first coming from São Paulo to Paris, and three hours later, from Paris to Tokyo, took two different planes and around 23 hours to complete. During those hours I followed what I could using the Flight Radar app, instantly downloaded by me as soon as I knew he’d be on air. And during that same time all we had from him were short “I landed” and “I’m about to take off again” messages — as he was to buy a SIM card only by the time he landed in Japan.

I admit that for someone like me, used to talking to my son all the time, going through such long blackout hours was a challenge. We could only talk more properly, yet not yet perfectly with him some 3 to 5 hours later, when he took a taxi and got to the college campus. This means that I felt downhearted during most of Tuesday — and it just wasn’t worse because I decided to grab my gear and go to work at the office. Many people who work with me were aware of my son’s trip and knew he was about to travel, so I got surrounded by reassuring comments and by people who, also being parents themselves, knew quite well how I could be feeling. Even if none of them ends up reading these notes, I must acknowledge their caring and support. It made my day so smoother and easier to put up with while waiting for the blackout to end. Thank you. 🙏

The first picture my son sent us was from the airplane finger, where we saw the lettering in one of the several buildings at the Haneda Airport. It was so nice to talk to him again, some more pictures later, and check he was fine.

No lost bags, no apparent jet lag even after a whole day caged in an airplane (how good is it to be 18?). Hundreds of questions from his mother later, we were sure he was both fine and happy. His thrill, his happiness, was also so solid that one could almost grab it in the air.

When we talked to him for the second time, he had already met some college colleagues, and friends he’s been talking with for some months — even years — while still in Brazil. One of them went showing him some places and took him to shop for some basic kitchenware and supplies. He showed us pictures from his apartment and from places like the Tokyo Tower, which he briefly visited with a friend.

We’ve been away for only 5 days, but my heart is much calmer now that we could establish a routine to communicate. I wish him just the best, all the joy and all the luck in this new chapter of his life — as his classes are about to start, just the next Monday.

I have stated before I had paused my Japanese studies. But as my son traveled, I decided it was time to resume doing whatever I can to learn 日本語 (nihongo, Japanese).

As immediate actions, I have download the Maru Kana iOS app, as it’s proven to be a funny way to make me memorize the kana. The problem is I’m a little rusty… the app itself told me so once I popped it open — 7 months since my last practice section, so I’ll have to allow myself some time to catch up.

Also, due to the cherry blossom season in Japan, and its peak in April, I learned about Renshuu Pro’s ongoing sale through the end of the month, and obtained a lifetime subscription of the service, which is also very nice and is, along with Kanshudo, the ones I find more interesting for my Japanese self learning journey. Now, it’s on to study.