It was the morning of Christmas Eve. In my room, I had already packed my suitcase, only waiting for Hiroto to get ready. The days there were definitely the worst two months of my life. I could hear Mark’s disgusting voice from the living room. He seemed to be saying farewell to Hiroto. I didn’t care. The last thing I was going to do was ignore him, not say goodbye.
“Hiroto, it was nice to meet you. Let me give you some advice.” Pointing up his index finger, he continued: “Here’s the thing: If you want to survive in California, don’t trust people.”
It was exactly the same comment the Asian host had made two months earlier. Recognizing this coincidence, I felt anxious about living in this country. At the same time, I remembered that none of the adults in Japan had ever told me the same thing. The advice was based on the belief that a person could only rely on oneself to be independent and others were not worth believing. In my eyes, this deep-rooted individualistic belief reflected the two hosts’ pitiful experiences in this highly competitive American society. I assumed that some past experiences had been so traumatic that they made them give up on looking for someone to count on. Even Mark’s paranoid tendencies could be explained as reactions to others, who had betrayed him. Thinking this way, I could sympathize with Mark a little.
He was already quiet in the living room, so I picked up my heavy backpack, took my suitcase with me, and left my room. On seeing my face, he started to give me his last complaint, the corners of his mouth wet with spit. I hurried to the front door with Hiroto and walked out of the house.
Eventually, we escaped from the guy, who had been obsessed with attacking me until the last moment. While walking, I realized that I had come to partly internalize their belief in two months. The way Mark had treated me made me distrustful to homestay. Consequently, I chose to live without any host family’s help in order to save my greatest resources, such as energy and time. It could be said that Mark was could reproduce a person with the same disbelief that he had. However, I still would not oversimplify the society in the way both my hosts had done, because I would remember people like the Asian host in Irvine, who had been trustworthy. The experiences in two families told me that even if a person had the strong disbelief in others, he/she could allow someone else to overcome it by his/her own behavior.