I just got back last night from a whirlwind 36-hour trip back down to the coast. It felt like much longer, though, and definitely in a good way. We all had a great time and really enjoyed each other’s company and had a lot of fun in the process. (Genna’s posted her photos already.)
Quite possibly the quote of the weekend:
“Okay, now that all of our menstrual cycles have aligned…” – Kiet, commenting on the slight estrogen overload that comes with hanging out with 3 girls
General overarching themes of the weekend:
- Kiet’s trying really hard to prove to everyone that he’s not gay, and they don’t believe him.
- If you truly want to do something, especially when you’re still unmarried and don’t have kids or any pressing obligations, or if you can relax those obligations a bit, it’s completely possible to make time for it and to make it happen. You can put off the job search for a few months, or just not work for a while. You can take a semester off from school. Life’s happening right now. It sounds so clichéd, but it’s the truth. Don’t let these opportunities and these chances for exploration, self-discovery, and happiness escape you.
- picked up Kiet, then Genna and Ange(la) around 10:45-11:00 AM
- drove from Awa down to Hiwasa – about 2 hours
- “hippie Indian” (as I call it) lunch at Anand, with a stop at Yakuoji, pilgrimage temple #23, and wandering around omiyage shops as Genna fell in love with the cat of one of the shopkeepers
- went straight to Kochi – brief stop at Shirahama Beach, then on to Ikumi Beach
- they swam, I waded contentedly, picked up shells, walked along the beach, and stared at the dozen-plus jellyfish that had been washed onto the shore
- returned to Bessie’s house a couple of hours later
- called and messaged Bessie to get instructions on how to operate her shower (the 4-knob/lever version, where you have to spark the gas yourself to heat the water–she was gone for the weekend) and ended up calling Chris R. to walk us through it
- went to an izakaya for dinner and dealt with blatantly staring jerks, and went to a convenience store for dessert and to pick up breakfast food
- returned to Bessie’s
- in the pitch black, as we fumbled to find the light switch, Ange pressed a button she thought was the hall light, except it was the fire alarm
- neighbors came out of their houses, other tenants in the building came up (including an old man in his pajamas who was glaring at us) and one actually dismantled the alarm bell to get it to stop – we think they called the police and fire department to tell them it was a false alarm
- called Bessie to tell her (it turns out our friend Paraone/Aaron did exactly this, too), and she couldn’t stop laughing, so I started laughing, and so did everybody else
- Ange went to sleep, and Genna, Kiet, and I played a zombie strategy board game till Kiet started dozing
- Genna and Ange snuggled up in Bessie’s bed, while Kiet and I slept in the living room, sort of–he forgot his pillow and we both just kept waking up (I woke up when I heard loud sounds, and he snored, so…)
- wanted to drive down to Kochi to see the sun rise, but it was cloudy and we were sleepy, though I went out onto the balcony for a few minutes to watch some color come into the sky
- made fun of baseball players (Ichiro hikes his pants up way too much, has Brad Pitt lips, and is trying too hard to look cool; Matsui is ruggedly handsome (though apparently his nickname is Godzilla because he’s apparently that ugly–we disagree!); Igawa looked like any of our typically misbehaving punk students) and wondered if they’d ever had ALTs, and how those former ALTs felt about their former students being internationally famous baseball players now
- got a late start, checked out Ikumi Beach for Ange, but it was crowded and the waves weren’t that great
- drove down to Muroto, with a few stops for photo ops
- stopped at Myoto-iwa, this massive rock formation, and spent 30 minutes there, snapping photos and hanging out
- TRIED to eat my lunch, but they’d put huge slabs of bacon in my mushroom sautee sandwich
- big and really nice heart-to-heart/Girl Moment with Genna and Ange (as Kiet dozed, in a daze from the estrogen overload)
- made it down to Hotsumisaki-ji (temple #24 of the pilgrimage), drove up to the temple and walked around and talked about the logistics of doing the pilgrimage in one go
- visited a series of several temples in small tunnels
- missed the turn for the golden reclining Buddha, but oh well
- stopped a couple of times on the drive up, and ran into Dani, a really sweet private ALT in Tokushima City
- went to this special Sunshine grocery store with a ton of foreign foods–ricotta/spinach tortellini! Gnocchi! Lindt Lindor chocolate! Tim-Tams! Cadbury’s chocolate!
- bought Bessie a thank-you gift, went back to tidy up and pack out, and snapped a photo of ourselves posing next to the fire alarm button which we sent her
- went back to Anand in Hiwasa for dinner, and had a really wonderful and musical time, gushing over handmade tonal percussion instruments made by the restaurant owner (forgot the instrument’s name), and talking about what a wonderful thing music in general is and how there’s no feeling in the world like making music (Genna plays oboe, I play violin, Kiet took piano for a year after coming here but had to stop due to lack of time)–I loved seeing their eyes light up as we talked
- drove, and drove, and drove
- upon turning onto the River Road in Tokushima City, we stumbled across a huge nighttime meeting/convention of decked-out trucks, with lights and banners and fancy horns
- dropped off Genna and Ange, had another round of hugs
- took Kiet to his apartment, where he realized he didn’t have his keys
- after 10 minutes of searching my car and his bag and wallet, he remembered that he’d left his keychain on Bessie’s kitchen table, a 2.5-hour drive away
- he managed to climb from the second-floor staircase landing to his balcony and let himself in, and I messaged Bessie to ask if she could mail him his keys
- we said our goodbyes, I left and was finally home 1.5 hours later, by 9:45 PM
Kiet and I sort of had a semi-argument going all weekend, starting with him sort of being a backseat driver (though Genna and Ange had my back), and continuing with him feeling insulted when I made one of my “are you enjoying your dead animal?” comments (100% jokingly–anybody who knows me should know that I would never force my beliefs on anybody), and I was insulted when he started teasing me a bit too much about liking Star Wars so much (but he plays console RPGs and yet claims he isn’t a geek because those are more “mainstream”–we called him on that).
I got him back in the end–after his whole climbing-onto-the-balcony thing, I told him the Force had been with him. He cringed but went with it, but got me back by telling me really slowly, in an intentionally patronizing voice, how to turn my wheel and reverse my car to get out of his lot. Heh.
On the whole, it was a good, good weekend, with a great group dynamic. There was also already talk of post-Japan meetups, and keeping everyone informed on where we’ll end up. Ange and Kiet are recontracting, but Genna’s heading back to Kansas and I’m…heading back to some as-yet-undetermined location in the US or Canada, wherever I can find a good job.
I called Laura today and happened to catch her at a good time, and we talked for about an hour. I have to call Sindya and Hemant fairly soon about some design commission work, and I should get some stuff done around the apartment. I need to go to Paparagi to pitch the idea of an ALT open mic to the Mama-san there, and I may make some of the tortellini I bought in Mugi yesterday for dinner. It’s also time to get back in gear for work, since we have no more national holidays for the duration of my time here. The concept of a five-day week is feeling kind of strange right now.