With Visions of Gray’s Recession Specials Dancing in My Head


The children appreciate my coloring – they tell their parents so and comment about it amongst themselves. One of my three year olds watched me intently today as I colored in a picture of an elf and held her hand out for my crayons before I had finished coloring each bit. She then copied my design to the best of her efforts.

“Sensei’s picture is better,” said Hitomi as we crafted Christmas cards out of construction paper. “Sugoi, sensei!”

“Sugoi,” echoed Shino, the copycat who was still holding my crayons for ransom.

“It’s because sensei is an adult,” said Yuko matter-of-factly.

“Sugoi,” sighed Hitomi again, and then surprised me by adding, in English, “Great!” This makes Number One for instances of my younger students speaking English when I wasn’t asking them to.

I did not have a beer on the ride home from Wakayama because I didn’t think of it. It would have been a great opportunity; the nights grow dark early and I no longer have to fear snarky stares from passengers who think it’s rude to drink in daylight. Also, today marked my last day of class before Winter Break. It would have been an excellent time to have a beer and yet I was too preoccupied and giddy; tomorrow I will head back home!

Items Found in My Drawers and Cupboards as I Packed:

  • About 80 baht
  • 1 taupe colored lacy shoe liner
  • 1 blue poo sock
  • 1 pink poo sock
  • half a dozen unused American bank checkbooks
  • approximately 30 crumpled conbini receipts
  • a dozen bobby pins
  • my long-missing Shiseido Waterlip lipbalm
  • several dimes
  • a litter of silver-colored dust kittens I shall name Juan, Kaori, Mel B. and FuQuan
  • half a pack of basil seeds
  • gifts I meant to send but never did
  • unused and melted packets of Cepacol lozenges

The packing is done. The bathroom and kitchen are clean. The garbage bags are ready to be thrown out, sure to incur wrath from the neighbors for being put out a day before garbage day. The multitudes of presents are packed. I am antsy, as I always am before a trip, even though my bags are as they should be.

The idea of being back home excites and worries me in waves; I have recurring daymares of being government-napped in immigration at JFK … for what, I don’t know. Perhaps some bill I forgot about? Perhaps some court summons that went to my old address and never reached me? Silly, I know. Similarly, the 3 hours on a train and then the 13 hour flight do not excite me. What about getting back into Japan come January? My visa situation is all up to date, I know that, but, well, these are the thoughts of the dumb and restless few with too much time to think.

Nobody is online, and I am hyper when I should be getting sleep, with visions of Alphabet City crackheads dancing in my head. Jeremy mentioned the F train the other day, which stirred up memories of work commutes gone by and the childlike excitement in my soul. And then I thought of my old rambling walks through familiar neighborhoods that became strange at the turn of a block corner, yielding impossible delights in the form of brand new shops with dazzling window displays that had actually been there the whole time. Of knowing exactly where I am at all times and knowing exactly what to say in each situation without having to resort to my phone’s dictionary. For the majesty of the buildings and the madness of the people. Oh, for a fried egg bagel sandwich at Cozy’s. Oh god, a Gray’s Papaya hot dog. Mustn’t think of the Recession Special. For a night at Marie’s Crisis, howling show tunes around the rickety upright and devotedly bringing Darin more shots. For my friends. For my family.

Soon, home to New York City, the city that was home for me even before it was.

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