Deriving symbolism from random crap

Heh, I know it’s been too long between posts when my parents call me out of concern because I haven’t written in a while.

So my one-year anniversary has come and gone. (Or anniversaries, rather: July 23rd was the day I left Atlanta and the US, July 24th was when I arrived in Tokyo, and July 27th was when I arrived in Tokushima and Ikeda.) There’s still no huge retrospective…I’ve done a lot of thinking and had many moments of reflection this week, and it’s really easy to put myself in the shoes of the ALTs who are currently wandering around Shinjuku, because I was exactly where they currently are on July 24th, 2005. (Except maybe I was a bit hungrier, since I asked for yakisoba with no meat at an izakaya I went to with some folks, and received yakisoba with ground beef. What a first dietary impression that made!)

The other big piece of news: I now own a car. It’s still technically not mine by name, but money’s been exchanged and it’s sitting in our apartment building’s parking lot. It’s an older car, but with not very much mileage considering its age. It’s been checked out and is in great condition. I’m now working on simultaneously getting my Japanese license, applying for permission from the police department to secure a(n official) parking space, and setting up a time when I can transfer the registration and compulsory insurance to my name–and I have to apply for the secondary driver/passenger insurance.

I spent today in Tokushima City, hitting up a bunch of shops (I now have new things for the apartment from Muji, the JLPT application from Kinokuniya, a new shirt from UNIQLO, and some other stuff–I also finally ate at Capricciosa–wow, that place rocks). Exactly a year ago, it was this weekend, my first weekend after arriving in Japan, that I first came into Tokushima City with Lindsay for the Clement Plaza rooftop beer garden (which is a monumental waste of money for vegetarian non-drinkers, but anyway–it’s a “tradition” or something, but last year’s was a conversationally awkward blur; it wasn’t set up to facilitate much meet-and-greeting). How far we’ve all come since then…Lindsay’s now left the country and has been doing a homestay with a Togolese family that has no indoor plumbing/running water, from what I understand. She should be getting her permanent placement soon.

I did make a really wonderful discovery today, though, in the form of Art Records, a store that’s been pointed out to me in the past but that I completely forgot about. It specializes in selling classical and world music CDs, for half the price of what normal Japanese music stores would charge! I saw flyers outside for several concerts and decided to step inside, and once I did, I started grinning from ear to ear. It’s been so, so long.

It’s funny, though, that it took me a year to discover that. I’ve walked past that store countless dozens of times without even blinking. I’m taking it as a sign or symbol of sorts, in that it suggests that there’s always room to learn much, much more about things I already have some familiarity with–but I do have a solid year in which to learn, and to enjoy the fruits of that newfound knowledge.

That, or I’m just lucky. Or dumb, for completely missing it, despite having people say to me on more than one occasion, “You know, this store has a really big classical music selection. I think you’d like it,” right as we’re walking past it.

At any rate, I’m off to sleep now. Tomorrow’s the regional sports meetup–this time, I believe that only Chalice and I, two of the nine area junior high ALTs, will be present. I remember last year, Lindsay and I hung out with Joe, Andy, and Andrew K. (and that’s where I met Jeff, Andrew’s pred and a 4th-year ALT now on the other side of the prefecture; he’s a guitarist/mandolin player, the organizer of the Open Mic Nights, and my musical partner on the Orange Blossom Special at the last Open Mic). I also remember feeling so strange about hanging out around these kids who didn’t know me at all, and I was wondering how they must’ve thought it was stupid that the new ALT came to cheer them on despite not knowing them. If only I knew–they all know me now, and I’m really looking forward to cheering them on tomorrow, even though, to be frank, our sports teams kind of suck compared to the others. But that’s okay! Ganbare!

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