A day of many tears

Today’s been very emotional, and I’ve shed many tears, but it’s not quite over yet.

This morning were the final ceremonies at my primary and secondary base schools, my junior high and 1.5-day elementary school. They had a separate ceremony from the end-of-term ceremony in my honor at my junior high, including all the students forming a massive arch for me to go under. The 3rd-year teachers came together and bought me a present on behalf of all the teachers, and the principal presented it to me, but it turns out the 1st- and 2nd-year teachers haven’t actually seen it, so I’m bringing it to our enkai today. It’s this beautiful brocade of cloth…though I have to admit that I’m not sure what to do with it.

Immediately after that ceremony finished, I ran to the elementary school. This went more smoothly, in part because it turns out there was another teacher who’d only been here for a year as she filled in as the 2nd-grade teacher for a teacher who was on maternity leave but who’ll be returning in the fall. I also played the violin at this one–I ended up playing for the whole school and for the preschool kids and for their parents. I’d played at all my other shougakkous and didn’t want to leave these kids out, and it ended up getting bigger as time went on. I did five songs on my own, four from various Studio Ghibli films (Tonari no Totoro, Mononoke Hime, Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, and Hauru no Ugokushiro, and one piano-violin duet with the other departing teacher. The teachers afterwards presented me with a gorgeous indigo-dyed cloth and purse.

I spent my afternoon hanging out at my junior high (I must’ve been pretty unobtrusive, because my JTE had told me she would call me if I was out with the details of our enkai tonight, and suddenly my phone rang and it was her, so I look up, straight at her, and go, “Uh…Sensei?” She lifts her head and stares at me for a couple of seconds, and then our whole cluster of desks bursts out laughing), then getting started on my pension paperwork, which required me running home, and then I picked up some cookies for the 1.5-day shougakkou (since I kind of forgot to bake them a cake) and went back in, where I had a great conversation about music and communication with the principal there. (I love her voice. She has such a calming, melodic voice and demeanor.) We then had our “saigo no aisatsu,” our final farewells, where the principal spoke on behalf of the gathered teachers, where I said a few words (and of course thought of many more I could’ve said as soon as I left), and then, blinking back even more tears, I stepped out of the staffroom, took my indoor shoes with me, and left.

And now I have to go get ready to be picked up in just under a half-hour for our junior high enkai, where I’ll be expected to give another brief speech and where I know I’ll start crying again. Hopefully this’ll be better than previous enkais. I’m actually looking forward to it.

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