I met Ai almost exactly one year after I’d moved to Japan. I’m getting ahead of myself, though – I need to go back to the beginning.
In my early 20s, I was addicted to travelling; I had perpetually itchy feet. Travelling had me in its grasp, my wanderlust an uncontrolled entity. And like most addictions, I needed more money to sustain it. At twenty-four years old and jobless, my savings fast running out, I needed to start making money to support my habit. It only made sense that I’d look for a job in a different country; it seemed, in my mind, to be killing two birds with one stone. Soon I was looking up international jobs, researching visas, investigating how much I’d need for the plane ticket. I then did what seemingly every other twenty-something English-speaker with a university degree but no idea how to use it does: I decided to teach English abroad. It was relatively easy to find a job online, and after an interview and a grammar test, it was confirmed. I was going to be a teacher in Japan.