Chapter 1: Displacement
May. The month that the decision was made to send me out of the United States. I apparently needed to be someplace that could cater to my medical needs while still receiving a full education, but what medical needs needed catering were confusing and slightly illogical to me. Well, most were.
I was in a major car accident that killed my sister Emily and nearly killed me two months prior. I was severely injured, almost dead when the EMTs arrived. Oddly enough, I quickly recovered, from both the accident and my sister's death. Maybe I got over her death too quickly, but I knew she wouldn't want me to grieve. That was just how she was. Maybe I just pushed the grievance deep down because I couldn't handle it.
Numerous surgeries were performed on me following the accident. I was in the recovery room at UPMC in Pittsburgh. The doctors had performed open-heart surgery, the last surgery they were to perform. They surgically ensured my heart was healthy, due to some related health issues. They also decided to find my hiatal hernia, to see if it was potentially dangerous at the time. The hernia is near my heart, so it wasn't dangerous. I think. While in the room, the cardiologist assigned to me gave me some news.
According to the doctor, the ADHD I was diagnosed with six years prior was worsening. To this day, how is something I do not know, let alone how my ADHD was relevant. The hernia I had was also enough to warrant such a move, among other things that had no real effect on my daily life for several years. I am not the most blessed person in terms of genetics. Actually, I am sort of cursed, given how many health problems I have, though they aren't truly severe. Not enough to warrant such a change in schooling, in my opinion.
Also, the doctor told me they made arrangements for me to go to school overseas. This at first was disheartening. I have to make all new friends, get used to a new location, a new way of everything, just for one year? And being the outsider who is likely to have issues making friends? Splendid.
However, as I thought about it, it was kind of exciting. A chance to see a foreign land, to live there for a year, to leave the country for the first time... all for free. I was kind of giddy. I thought I would be going to some European nation. My father was a second-generation German-American and my mother was a third-generation Russian-American. I'm not half-Russian, half-German. I'm more than that, but that's irrelevant. Due to that, my grandparents taught me both languages. Besides, most Europeans did learn English, which would help if I ended up in somewhere strange, like Sweden or Poland.
I was told the school in question was very much normal, just that there was also medical staffing in the building. I was also told it was a school for disabled or cripple youths. That didn't help my disposition at all. First, excitement. Then, disappointment. Now I am a cripple. How kind of you, Mister Doctor Guy.
"I talked about it with your uncle, showed him pictures... He seems fine with it," the cardiologist said, seeing my disdain about such a prospect.
I snorted. He just wants me gone, I wanted to say. Both of my parents died when I was young. My mother died during childbirth and my father died in some odd way that I can't describe just because of how strange it was. That left my father's brother to take care of me and Emily. He was a very kind and supportive guardian, but he had his own life troubles to deal with. He worked overtime more often than not because he had to support Emily (until she graduated), me, and his own children. I was the oldest at the time and I could tell that my uncle was getting ecstatic during my junior year. I'd then be off to college in a little over a year and he could slack a bit more. I couldn't blame him.
"It's located on top of a hill in the countryside, a town maybe a few miles down, a city not too far away. It's a very nice school. Many graduates go on to do great things," he continued. "Also, the school isn't just for kids with disabilities. Normal students go there as well." It seemed like he read my mind.
"What country is the school in?" I asked. I was put at ease at the fact it also had normal kids. I felt like a bigot. I mentally shot my self for acting like such a dick.
"Well..." he said, thinking. "What languages do you have some knowledge of?"
"Some German and Russian... and a decent amount of Japanese," I replied. I was teaching myself Japanese on the internet
"How much Japanese?" the cardiologist inquired.
So I'm going to Japan. My mind died. Japan was interesting in many ways. I think Japanese girls are cute, so that was a plus. I also wanted to spend time in Japan because of how many strange things are there. Plus. All of the things on the Internet about how kooky Japan could be came to mind, hence the death of my mind.
"Uh... Well, I've been teaching myself on the Internet and I guess... about less than a Japanese Two level in a school," I replied, though that was only on a writing scale.
"Well, you'll need to learn to about a Japanese Three or Four level in a week," he bluntly replied, not expecting a miracle.
My face was showing concern and excitement at the same time, it seemed. I can't possibly do that. Learning Japanese on my own was hard enough.
"Don't worry, it'll be fine. You already know some of the basics of the language. Plus, the school has on-campus dorms," the expert on the topic-at-hand said, apparently guessing I'd ask if I needed a host family. "There is a perk, too."
Interesting... "Which is?" I questioned.
"You don't have to finish eleventh grade. You'll be a senior when you get there."
This was actually a pleasing thought. No finals is a good thing. My speaking in Japanese wasn't bad. In fact, I was almost fluent. My writing and reading, on the other hand, was total crap. The writing is... confusing. Russian isn't bad, and German, as with the Romance languages, shares the Latin alphabet, not to mention English is a Germanic language. But Japanese? The writing is like Mason's numbers: WHAT DO THEY MEAN? Well, mainly the kanji.
"Why do I only have a week?" I asked.
"Classes started this week. You'll be only a week behind."
That was unnerving. Starting class in a foreign nation so soon? My jimmies felt a little bit of rustling going on. However, there was no point in arguing. The arrangements were already made, my uncle most likely already planned my trip... I passed a point of no return I didn't even choose to cross. I was thrown through it.
"Can you tell me why I have to go, then?" I asked, curious of my actual disability.
"Well," the cardiologist sighed. "We looked at your recent psyche evaluation, from when you were admitted, and you have an unhealthy combination of mental disorders. ADHD, OCD, bipolar, some signs of Asperger syndrome, and dyscalculia, which is basically mathematical dyslexia. Then there are some more mental disorders that we feel aren't a concern."
"But that's hardly a good enough reason to send me to another school in another nation that is for kids with actual disabilities," I retorted, kind of pissed.
"There's more though," he continued. "You have developmental dyspraxia, which negatively affects your motor skills. You also have arthritis. You are aware of most disorders you have, correct?" I go to answer positively, but he goes on. "You also have a minor cardiac dysrhythmia. Arrhythmia, irregular heartbeat, call it what you will, it's only minor. That means we have to keep an eye on it. You can still engage in physical activity, not too strenuous, though. I think you play some hockey, so that would be fine. Just take breaks, so it's good that line changes exist. However, an irregular heartbeat isn't your only debilitation. Remember that you have lupus and a hernia."
"So... Why do I have to go to Japan?"
"Because," clearly he was getting his jimmies rustled. "It is one of the most renowned schools on the planet that is for children with disabilities. It's a high school. Plus, most other schools that are for disabled children are for the mentally disabled. As in low IQ. You clearly don't have a low IQ."
I think I pissed him off. In the end though, I said I had no more questions. The day passed rather slowly. When I was discharged later that day, he wished me luck at the new school. He also gave me a list of prescriptions to be filled, each only lasted for about five days. Apparently there would be more at this new school. He also apparently set me up with a Japanese tutor, but my uncle knew more about it.
My uncle picked me up and we drove home, fifty or so miles south, to Uniontown. During the drive, I asked him what he thought of the school.
"Looks nice," he said. "I think you'd like it, I really do."
"Do you know any Japanese?" I asked. He was stationed in Japan when he was in the Air Force.
"Some, not much. I'm taking you to a Japanese tutor tomorrow anyway."
"Where would that be?"
"Oddly enough, in Connellsville. Didn't know any Japanese tutors would ever be there."
We went to Target to get my prescriptions filled, then went home.
As we pull in the driveway, I ask my uncle if I'm going to school tomorrow.
"No, you have to brush up on that Japanese stuff," he replied, somewhat optimistic.
I was actually relieved, but I did want to tell my friends goodbye. Maybe I'll talk to them on Xbox. Besides, I guessed I would be dropped off in Connellsville for several hours to learn Japanese. Makes sense, actually.
When I walked through the front door, my twin cousins ran and hugged me. They must have really missed me after two months.
"Addy!" both girls exclaimed. "You're home! Are you okay? Do you want to play?"
'Addy.' Such a weird nickname for Adolf. My dad apparently though Adolf was a perfect name for me. My uncle said that when my dad saw me for the first time he remarked that he was strangely reminded of Adolf Hitler. Adolf stuck.
"Lisa, Emma," I crouched next to the girls. "I can't play. I'm sorry, but I'm very tired, and sore. Plus I have to learn a whole new language tomorrow."
"Ooooh!" both awed. They did almost everything in unison. Seven year olds are strange nowadays. "What language?" Again, in unison.
"But," Emma said. "That has weird letters and stuff! It's like a big bucket of paint was just thrown and SPLOOSH! It's there!" Lisa agreed. Such energetic girls.
"Sorry, but I'm going to go to bed."
They both were aww-ing in sadness. It was not bothersome to me. I had to learn a new language tomorrow. I even bypassed Xbox, something I never do. I was bandaged from the surgery. Laying down on my bed, I hissed in discomfort. I still felt some pain in my back. Nicht gut.
"Fick mich," I hissed. I have a habit of speaking and cursing in German or Russian often, even if I know what I say is implying something sexual.
I lied on the bed, wondering what the next week would hold. I slowly drifted off into sleep, forgetting to brush my teeth. That really sucked the next morning.
The next morning, I awoke to the taste of bad breath. Schiße. I got up, brushed my teeth, showered, and changed my bandages. In the shower, I noticed the amount of scars I had from the surgeries and the accident. There were quite a bit, not taking the pockmarks into account.
I then got breakfast and waited for my uncle. When he was ready, we left for Connellsville. It took us a few minutes to find the address at which this tutor was housed. After a brief introduction, I was left with a Japanese immigrant. Her name was Sakura, and she was my tutor. She apparently moved to the States to teach Japanese.
It's said that a natural speaker of a language can teach it better than a foreigner who learned the language. I told her what I already knew fairly well and we started by covering all that I wasn't able to handle at a basic level, which was almost all of the basic kanji. For some reason, I wasn't able to recall hiragana and katakana as well as I used to. She decided that relearning what I already knew would be immensely helpful in the long run.
After the first day, I (re)learned a lot. She was a really good teacher. We started off with the bare fundamentals, like grammar and hard conjugations. Not exactly how I would expect any language to be taught, but it was very effective. Then I learned how to write the "alphabet," which were just the two syllabaries. The next day I learned more writing and phrases and this sort of deal continued throughout the week.
On the last day, I thanked her in Japanese, and wished her luck. She did the same. I could speak and understand on a Japanese Five level, but I could read and write only at a Japanese Two level. What can I say? I learn languages quick, not to mention I relearned Japanese for approximately sixty hours. Twelve hours each day, for five days. Not exactly a week, but I had my flight the next day. I think I learned a lot in that span of time. Sadly, it's probably not enough to function at a Japanese high school. I was also taught some phrases and such on a much higher level to get around easier.
The morning of my flight, I packed my stuff. I had the basic necessities, some clothes (apparently there were school uniforms), my Xbox, my laptop, and various other articles. Not like I was moving. I had two medium sized luggage bags, and another bag full of games. I also took my hockey equipment, just in case. I wasn't the biggest hockey player, but it is an enjoyable sport and I was fairly good at it. Make that three luggage bags and a bag full of games. In my wallet was about $250 I saved up, not for this kind of circumstance, however.
After telling my twin cousins goodbye, my other cousin finally presented himself. Jacob was somewhat of a recluse. Thirteen year old boys shouldn't really do that, but whatever. It's his choice.
"Bye Adolf," he dully said. Such a depressing child. Either way, I gave him a hug and did the same to my aunt. Except she wasn't as unfazed by it. I can't read that woman's emotions. Maybe she was reminded of Emily's death, I thought.
My uncle and I then departed for the hour or so long drive to Pittsburgh. It was about 12:45 P.M. when we left. My flight departed at 3:00. We had plenty of time.
Sure enough we did. The normal rush hour traffic that was associated with Pittsburgh wasn't present, at least not as severe. We arrived at Pittsburgh International at about 2:30. My uncle and I passed the time listening to the radio and talking. I made a promise to e-mail him at least once bi-weekly (Facebook was too mainstream, I guess). Or, as I told him, I would try to. He accepted it well enough.
We sat in the terminal for about fifteen minutes before I boarded the flight. My luggage was deemed safe enough for flight, which was a relief, because my boxers are totally WMDs. Before I boarded, however, my uncle pulled me back, slapping ten Ben Franklins in my hands.
"Use it only for food or other supplies," he told me. I nodded my head and hugged him in a manly way before boarding. Twelve hundred fifty dollars USD should be more than enough to get me through the school year. Hell, I felt like a millionaire. I secretly thanked my uncle a lot more, because a thousand dollars wasn't something he would just give me, despite how nice he is.
The plane would stop to refuel in Seattle, then we would go to Sendai. From there, I would ride a bus to the school. Sounds like a plan.
During the flight, I watched Biodome and listened music. Genesis and a various assortment of J-Pop songs. J-Pop can be good, even though it is hard to understand when little Japanese is known. I also listened to German and Russian music, but that's irrelevant. My musical tastes aren't typical of the average American teenager.
Upon landing in Sendai, I was greeted with a rush of... culture shock? It seemed like it. No, maybe it was airport security or just the odd feeling of heat. Maybe it was just the experience of being in a foreign nation. I got checked by customs, assured I had a passport and a visa, and went into the streets after I exchanged my dollars for yen.
I needed to find the bus stations, so I asked a man where it was. In Japanese, of course.
He directed me to it, and when I was there, I asked a woman at the desk when the next bus to Yamaku Academy would leave. Apparently, my Japanese was a little bad and the receptionist, I assumed she was one, asked what I meant. I asked if she spoke English and she said she did. I asked her again, and she then directed me to a bus that was about to depart.
I boarded the bus and fell asleep. It was nighttime and it would be a few hours until I reached the Academy. My luggage was bulky, and I was anxious. Such a perfect combo for sleep. Fatigue and butterflies in your stomach. Oyasumi, watashi.
AN: I'm sure that this wasn't the best possible first chapter, but the way it was written was to reflect Adolf's ADHD. Since I have ADHD, it was much easier to write this way. Either way, I hope you liked the first chapter and read the second, which will be lots of copied text. Given how I'm setting up the story, it's needed.
(6/7/14): As the one year anniversary of the story approaches, I figure it is a good time to inform new readers that, if you are familiar with Hanako's route during the first act, skip straight to chapter nine.