This was actually a really good weekend.

On Friday night, the night after the regional meetup in Mikamo, I’d planned to have another welcome dinner, but everyone was busy except for Brian. Neither of us wanted him to be all by himself, so he caught a train over here, and because of how ridiculously early the last train east left, he just crashed here for the night. It was like a slumber party, with lots of chatting, laughing (lots of that, indeed), showing off photos of our friends and our lives back home, talking about classical music and the shortcomings of Pinchas Zukerman, and watching Avatar: The Last Airbender (our latest animation obsession–I haven’t seen an animated series this good and solid and complex in years), Sailormoon, and random stuff on YouTube (he introduced me to French & Saunders, which was hilarious). The next morning, we grabbed brunch at a chintzy but charming cafe-type place I hadn’t been to yet and headed to the Sunrise building to give him a chance to go shopping, and probably ended up making half of Ikeda think I now have a boyfriend in the process (though it really doesn’t take much), before he caught a train back home. It seriously felt like we hadn’t just met each other in person the day before, and I haven’t clicked almost instantaneously with someone like that in quite a while…I really enjoyed having that chance to get to know him.

That afternoon, I gave my friend Em in California a call, and chatted with him, as well as his Japanophile younger brother who asked me The Two Dreaded Questions: “How’s Japan?” and “What city are you in?” (with the unspoken but assumed answer of Tokyo). I’d just been IMing with Em and telling him how much I hate answering those questions, so he burst out laughing in the background. At least his brother had heard of Shikoku, though! We also had our first real thunderstorm that I’ve felt here, and it actually knocked out my internet a couple of times, including knocking out my internet phone and disconnectiong us. It was good talking while we could, though.

That evening and today, I got to hang out with Ashley and give her an impromptu tour of some stuff around Ikeda. She’d spent Friday night and Saturday morning with her supervisor’s family and stayed at their house that night.

I got a call from Julie today, who just got back from two weeks back home in Hawaii yesterday. Mikamo was having some kind of festival today, including a fireworks display, so she was going to go with one of her eikaiwa students. Ashley went as well, and we couldn’t get in touch with anyone else. We had dinner at Prison (technically, Purizun, but yeah), and suddenly heard loud thumps–the entire restaurant emptied outside to watch, and it was brilliant. It was one of the coolest fireworks shows I’ve seen in years–they had the planet-shaped fireworks I remember from shows back in metro Atlanta, and star-shaped ones (one was distorted enough that it looked like a fish!), and some that were so huge they covered half the sky. We were all extremely impressed. We then went and hung out at Julie’s place for a bit afterwards until we had to leave to catch our train, and I think that, as well as hanging out at an izakaya with others, helped us finally unwind a bit and actually talk, instead of just my giving her long-winded answers to her questions about town and life in Japan. We have a lot of really similar views about religion and the world in general, and she’s just really cool.

And now I need to get to sleep, and make my way to my junior high at some point to finally get started on the speech contest coaching for this year. This is going to be a busy week–I’m giving Julie a violin lesson, heading into the city to turn in some paperwork as part of my license-applying process, and English camp kicks off Friday (I really need to get to work on coming up with activities to do)–with Awa Odori in Tokushima following on Sunday, and Awa Odori Ikeda happening Monday through Wednesday! How freaking awesome.

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