“ The wind blew my cheap umbrella inside-out like the exquisite mushrooms for sale in the basement of the Tokyu department store.”
San Antonio, Texas
April 18, 2012
Mil arigatos to my lovely friends in Japan.
Mil gracias to all my hosts in Japan for making my visit so memorable and warm. Teachers and librarians are the best human beings of all.
I am back in Texas, but Japan is still inside of me, and I mean that. I wake at 7 p.m. wanting egg on rice for breakfast, force myself to sleep at midnight, wake at 4 a.m. wanting fish and rice for dinner, and then fall asleep at 7 a.m. Awake at noon with what feels like a terrible hangover, and then fall asleep when I realize I can't possibly function. I am as droopy as a poppy.
Meanwhile, it is spring in Texas. The sunflowers are taller than I am. The trees have let go all their furry tassels. The garden is aloft with flowers and clogged with the scent of Confederate jasmine. The shadows in my garden are deep and aquatic like that painting by Manet/Monet? The one with the woman in Victorian white stepping away from the viewer in a French garden. Help me here.
Trying to sleep in the day, but the ice-cream truck goes by with an evil nursery song, the lawn man appears with a leaf blower next to my bedroom window, a marching band (yes, a marching band!) goes by in front of my house with trombones, drums, tubas, all from the local high school practicing for the upcoming Fiesta parade next week, and all manner of barking, yapping, howling, grunting, growling is going on about me thanks to my canine familiars.
I am on high anxiety trying to write a paper I have to deliver next week. And my suitcases are yawning open with papers and packages everywhere. I think I bought every conceivable item available in Japan for every person I know, and some I don't.
Thanks to all of you who served as burros carrying my bags. I really have to buy a suitcase with four wheels! I am unpacking only to pack again on a trip next week. Thank you all for the blossom shower of kindness while I was wandering about Japan. I saw and experienced many wondrous things. I am unpacking them only now and examining them with the eye of an anthropologist or child.
I do not have here at my fingertips the email addresses of all I want to thank — Javier and Sandra from the Spanish classes, and from the English classes — Mary and Dave, Kim and Steve — Linda, do you think you could forward this letter to them for me?
Also, I do not have the names documented of all the English teachers who loaned me their classes, but I hope this letter will be sent along to them as well by their respective librarians. I have such lovely memories of Rita in the Yokohama library nursing her poor knee, and Sergio from Guatemala from same with his story of his family pouring from his heart, radiant as the cherry blossoms under the full moon.
I take with me the memory of sitting on a bench alongside Amy Wilson while a gentle game of softball went on before us. And teaching Lois and Anne Marie over dinner how Mexicans cut an avocado. There is lunch with the mist of rain outside with the warmth inside from Linda, Kirby, and Primo while eating Taiwanese food and Krispy Kreme doughnuts for dessert. And the lovely surprise of the temple in Chinatown, Yokohama, with Brian leading us there by accident.
I learned how to fold a kimono. I learned the proper way to turn my chopsticks around so as to pick up an item from the communal plate. I learned to walk on the left side of an escalator. And that the Japanese are very quiet only in public, but not on a Friday night.
The wind blew my cheap umbrella inside-out like the exquisite mushrooms for sale in the basement of the Tokyu department store. The hot baths in private homes are the symbols of the best of Japanese technology, in my opinion. Have you eaten a Chinese bun while walking down the streets of Yokohama? My belly is a Chinese bun. Why do the women at every information desk wear ladies' hats designed by Coco Chanel? Who hired those Seisen students to run into me on Saturday at the Futako-Tamagawa station and ask me if I was me?
Oh, so many things inside of me, and I have yet to write them all down. But I thank you all, with a deep and truly humble bow, for the gift of your time, the most expensive gift of all.