First post and explanation
Homesick for clarity
Yesterday they offered a class in Igo (just regular 'Go' in English). I thought I wasn't going to make it because I'd promised the bike shop owner from the day before that I'd return my bike at the same time the class was being held, so I informed the HIF office I wouldn't be able to attend like I'd signed up to.
Get this. They somehow divined the location of the bike shop from my patchy and extremely non-fluent explanation of what had happened, even though I couldn't give them a name or a street or any useful information. Without me asking anything of the sort, they then went and called the bike shop and arranged for me to pick up the bike at a different time.
Actually, I have to admit, this degree of willingness of Japanese people to go extraordinarily out of their way to satisfy requests I'd never think of making has started to cross the line from wonderful to kind of creepy. I mean, honestly, they didn't have to do that. They really, really didn't have to do that.
Anyway, I successfully returned the bike I'd borrowed and got my own back good as new. Igo was quite interesting, in that I paired up with a friend who was paying as much attention to the hour long introduction as me, so we both concentrated hard on what we were doing and played through two interesting games on a beginner's board. I don't have mental resources to spare to devote more thought to Igo at the moment, but it's something to save for the future.
Lauren, a friend from the University of Chicago who's also here in Hakodate, asked me during the day whether I was feeling homesick yet like she was, and I replied no at that time, but I have to admit that last evening I did get homesick. I was absolutely loaded down with homework, but I'd taken a break to talk with my host mother, who'd just returned from a trip to Sapporo where she'd attended a conference of housewives. Yes, a conference of housewives. There was a series of lectures on methods of cooking and doing laundry that she took notes from and will present again to the local housewife study group of which she is the president. It certainly makes sense. Her homemaking skills are unbelievably professional.
So she'd returned and conversation somehow turned to racism in the United States. I ran out of words to explain what I was trying to communicate and I got really frustrated with my inability to express myself. My host mom listened patiently as I stumbled through my circumlocuitous, floundering stabs at the matter, but it's a really complicated subject that requires a lot of background in American culture, and I just couldn't do it. I didn't even begin to communicate what I was trying to say.
That was one of several failures. For some reason I was utterly exhausted the whole day yesterday. My host mom suggested that it might just be because it's been a week since I've arrived and I may be tired from adjusting to all the newness of Japan and trying to communicate in Japanese. She's probably right. Anyway, I kept getting really confused as I talked with my host parents, more than usual. And I sat back and balanced my ankle on my knee at the dinner table while I was eating a bowl of rice, which is fairly impolite. I knew that, and I apologized when my host dad joked that the Japanese equivalent of a hobgoblin was going to come and take me away in the night if I didn't correct my manners, but I felt embarrassed the rest of the night. Somehow I was just so tired I slipped into the sort of relaxed behavior I'd engage in at the dinner table back home.
That's when I got homesick. I felt a sudden and intense longing for my parents, my friends, and the ability to communicate exactly what I was thinking without shredding my brains just trying to conjugate a single verb.
My host mother offerd me a beer as a sort of late evening reward for finishing the extra amount of homework I'd received, but knocking it back just intensified my homesickness, rather than relieving it. I said good night more quickly than usual and curled up on my futon for a while, listening to John Mayer, who for some reason always elicits intense memories of Madison in the winter for me.
I'll adjust out of it soon. This weekend's an overnight trip to a hot spring hotel, which should let the pressure off a bit. Catch you on the flip side.