Subject is from a little boy's T-shirt.
Two stories today.
This first one I wrote in February but couldn't bring myself to look at it again until now:
Today a little boy broke my heart.
I've been going to a certain school once a week because no one else was
willing to take a 2.5 hour commute at 7am on a Saturday. At first it was
going to be a temporary thing, but a replacement was never found. Then I
became the manager and realized how hard it is to get a replacement for
that area. I ended up going there for 2 years.
Very suddenly, last week, a replacement was found and I had the hard task
of breaking the news to my students.
I told this little boy I wouldn't be able to be his teacher anymore. I
told him I had to go back to Kobe where I live. He rolled his eyes and
didn't seem to care. After the lesson started, though, he kept looking at
the clock and saying things under his breath like - 30 minutes left.. Only
20 minutes... 10 more minutes... Was he that eager to leave?
After the class finished, his Dad came to pick him up. I gave them both a
card. I asked the boy if I could hug him and he seemed embarrassed so I
didn't. Dad bowed and thanked me. Then he forced his kid to say some
embarrassing goodbye words. Finally they left the building and got in to
... for one minute. The next thing I know, the boy is running back in to
the school with tears all over his face. He runs inside, stops in front of
me and just stands there bawling. He looks like he's trying to say
something. I just hug him and tell him I love him and it's okay to cry.
After crying on my shoulder for a while, he finally eeks out what he wants
to say: "See you."
I start bawling, too.
Dad has been waiting in his car, but he realizes his son isn't coming back,
so he comes back inside. I suggest we all take a picture together. The
staff comes over and we clean up our faces enough to take a good picture.
Then we open my card together and read it, and I point to all the funny
pictures I drew. Finally, Dad carries his kid back to the car and the kid
waves at me from the window until they're out of my sight.
I feel like there's a big tear in my heart right now.
Gonna just chill for a while.
I've decided to just get myself my own kids, so I don't have to rely on other people's kids.
For 2 months I've spent all my bits and pieces of free time getting a painting ready for the exhibit in Toyota City next week. Finally, it's done, printed, and shipped off. I've been so used to putting off other plans knowing I need to get this done that I ended up with this day off with nothing on the schedule. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I started off as usual taking a morning walk up my mountain.
I went down. A cool breeze was just enough to keep away sweat without bringing a chill. Fresh new leaves rustled overhead and warm sunshine poured out of the blue sky. I was too late for our radio exercises, but instead of waiting for my friends in the cafe, I went down to greet them so we could walk there together. They weren't moving, though. They were huddled in a circle discussing plans.
My friend Kaneno said that today they were skipping breakfast at the cafe and instead going somewhere for a farming experience. She asked if I could come with her. And my first thought was no...
I hadn't showered or eaten breakfast, I didn't have my phone on me, I only had 1,500 yen in my pocket, and while technically nothing should go wrong at work today, what if it did?
And then I remembered how two years ago, Kaneno was walking down the street when a TV show host stopped her and asked her if she'd be cool with taking part in his show. My friends ended up on TV showing off a sightseeing place while the host looked cool for rewarding random elderly people. They didn't have any time to change or grab their phones and wallets, they just went in the van on a whim and had a great time.
I can say no to a lot of people, but not to Kaneno.
So I said yes. I spent every last penny I had on 2 bus rides plus the admission fee. My friends took me first to a Japanese garden near a hospital where my friend Yoshida wheeled her husband out every day after his stroke. It was a really nice place and I imagine if I had a stroke, I would be motivated to recover if I knew that garden was waiting for me. Next, we took a bus to a hillside that they are making in to traditional-style farmland. After wandering around the area, we were taking to a persimmon tree. Did you know you can make young persimmon leaves in to tea? But the tree was really big and they needed someone tall to help get some leaves. That would be me.
I used these clippers on a super long pole to trim leaves off the tree while my old lady friends ran around trying to gather them up. It was a good workout, but fun.
Next, we went to a radish field. The radishes are finished and need to be replaced with whatever vegetables come next. So we had to clear out the radish field. That meant taking home armfuls of radishes. That was also lots of fun.
All the irises had been dug up to make room for onions, and it's good luck to have iris leaves steeped in your bathwater so we took what would have been trash, bundled and cleaned it up, and packed it away in our bags to use in our baths that night.
After that we went to a traditional house replica to eat lunch that was handmade by local people. My dear friends paid for my lunch. We shared a table with some stuffed fake people as well. For dessert, Kaneno had brought a thermos of hot water and cocoa mix.
Then we all laid down on the floor to take a nap. While we were doing so, a tiny bus pulled up and asked if we wanted a tour. We got on the bus which pretty much took us everywhere we'd already been. But it was nice to sit and digest. Then we went on a walk together looking at what was growing where until it was time to leave.
So what was supposed to be a quick "let's go get some morning exercise and then decide what to do with the day" turned in to coming home at 4pm after a great experience.
And nothing blew up at work.