It’s rather hard to believe that by the time this letter reaches you, my dear friends, that I will have been here for four months. It’s getting so that I can barely keep track of the time as the days and weeks whiz past with little proof that they even existed.
Except, that is, for the constant memories that amass in my heart and in my mind.
Thank goodness for the occasional photograph which captures one brief moment, one genuine smile, one friendly face, that I hope in the years to come will help to keep my memories of Japan alive.
Recently, I have been giving a considerable amount of time (during most of which I should have been sleeping) to the most important decision I currently face.
To stay or not to stay – that is the question.
In fact, I think I’ve contemplated my future even more than the dark Prince of Denmark.
And, after weighing the pros and cons…
- So far, it’s been a wonderful experience.
- In two years, my Japanese is bound to improve.
- I have a lot of time to read and write.
- I have a world of adventure right at my fingertips.
- Everyone here wants me to stay.
- It gives everyone back home a good excuse to save their money and finally plan that trip to Asia.
- I’ll never have sex again.
- Most people here will still be having conversations with my breasts (eye-level, folks).
- I’ll never find any clothes my size.
- This isn’t the most intellectually stimulating job.
- I miss my friends and family.
- I’ll never get my family and friends to visit.
… I’ve decided to stay. I know this probably won’t come as a shock to many of you. After all, I was looking for something more long term even before I set foot on Japanese soil. I will, however, be home for a visit at the end of August for my brother, Jim’s wedding.
So, that’s that. If all goes well with my review, I’m here for a while longer, which means there will be plenty more opportunities for all of you to get that inaugural letter out.
Come on kids!
I’m beggin’ ya!
I’ll take a stamped envelope for God’s sake!
Now… on to what’s been happening here.
On the potential romance front please refer to item one in the “cons” section above. I have not seen Kyoto (Remember the bar-tending teacher in Hyuga?) since his public announcement of his intentions, but I plan on heading up to Hyuga in a couple of weeks.
We’ll see if he’s a man of his publicly-spoken words.
Here in Shintomi, I’ve learned of another dating potential. If you’ll recall the 27 pink roses I received from the Town Hall Computer Boys for my birthday, I recently learned they were actually from one fellow in particular, Toshi, who also bought me the champagne. When Akiko unveiled his not-so-secret-now crush, I told her all that was left were diamonds and I’d be his love slave.
Either the translation missed the mark, or the joke did.
I’m guessing it was the latter of the two.
I decided to share the birthday bubbly with Akiko and a few of the folks from the computer department who we’ve been out with several times in Miyazaki, the capital of the prefecture.(Our first night out, we went to an Italian restaurant – they chose – and I was very amused when I noticed that as the courses began to arrive, all of our Japanese companions watched Sam and I very closely before attempting to use the over-complicated Western cutlery.)
Anyway, we planned an evening at Tomioka-san’s home where we popped the DP and had loads of wonderful food. At the end of the evening, after Akiko took Toshi and Sunada (another computer boy) to the train station, Akiko returned to inform me that, according to Toshi, I was his “Stand by Me.”
I haven’t the faintest idea what that means.
Neither did Akiko.
Whatever the intent, I’m thinking it was meant to be romantic and, so far, it’s the closest thing to an outright flirtation that I’ve gotten from him – or anyone for that matter. I know it seems I have little to complain about with two men in two towns seemingly interested in me, but the fact is if I can’t even get to a date out of either of them.
At this rate, I might as well buckle down for a long, lonely winter.
I shouldn’t complain though.
I did have a date with TWO handsome, young men recently.
There’s only one hitch.
They are two of my 14 year-old students from Kaminyuta Junior High, Mikiyo and Naotomo, who got up the nerve to ask me if I’d go to the movies with them in Miyazaki last Saturday. When I said yes to their invitation, they were so excited, they ran screaming down the school halls causing a huge commotion.
So nice to finally have that kind of reaction to going out with me mean something positive.
My young gentlemen treated me to burgers and a movie (“Total Recall” with Arnold Schwarzenegger) and tried very hard to use English the entire day (as I did the same with my Japanese). Everywhere we went, they proudly strutted on either side of me down the streets of Miyazaki as if I was Queen of the Universe. The more I drew attention to our trio, the prouder they stuck out their chests and cockadoodle-dooed.
Especially, when they ran across girls from their school.
When they walked me from the train station to the front door of my apartment at the end of the date(s), before saying good-bye, I kissed each of them on the cheek and thanked them for the lovely day out.
Then I left them on the other side of the door.
Slack-jawed and stunned.
Listening from within, I knew they’d recovered from the shock when I heard giggling, followed by feverish footsteps and excited conversation as they leapt down the stairwell (several steps at a time) and headed down the street.
Laughter echoing off the sides of the buildings until they were out of earshot.
If only the Queen of Everything hadn’t woken the following morning with a cold so monumental, a beheading would have been preferable. My office is freaking out and ready to send me to the hospital, but I’ve been quite insistent that this is not necessary. So, instead, they’re shoving gallons of green tea and every Japanese cold remedy they can think of down my throat.
They have a soda over here aptly called Pocari Sweat.
Just imagine what the medicine tastes like.