Who knew that from studying Japanese that summer at Cornell to satisfy the linguistics language requirement would lead to such a wonderful experience in Japan?!?!
I'm having a very difficult time saying goodbye to everyone, and I don't think I truly am feeling the full impact of what's happening just yet. Tonight Teruyo and Masao (my homestay parents from my first summer in Japan) took me out for dinner after work and after dinner they drove me to the hotel I'm staying in. Masao hugged me and I started bawling. I've been crying on and off saying goodbye to students, but this was a full on tearful goodbye. They've promised to come to the States sometime, and I really want to show them around!
Today a student who I only taught once, and otherwise just saw around school came to give me a present. (Beautiful handmade indoor slippers.) Mr. Shibata had recently heard that I like playing and listening to the violin so he decided to give me a mini-concert. He hadn't been playing for long as he only started after he retired. He brought his violin up to school and played 'Meditation' by Massenet, which is one of my favorite pieces (and one that is very emotionally packed for me). Then after playing a few pieces he gave me his violin and asked me to play something. I haven't played in about 7 months, and was hoping I hadn't forgotten everything I knew. I played a bit of something, and it didn't sound terrible. We continued playing 'pass the violin' until we had both run out of music. He's in his eighties and I'm amazed that he's still taking lessons and learning new things. I hope I can be as spunky and cool as him when I'm old. He said some amazingly profoundly deep things that you might expect to find someone in a movie say, and then (in English) bowed himself out of the school. It's weird saying things like 'Take care! Keep studying! Good luck! Farewell!' while bowing deeply and then waving.
Anyway, lots of farewells, tears, cards, and presents. I taught my last large lesson today and at the end everyone applauded. I managed to not cry because I was telling myself to be in teacher mode. I think I'm doomed to be red faced and puffy eyed at tomorrow's farewell party. It's the largest party I'll have ever gone to at Aeon. I'm touched just by how many people are coming!
Laura and I had dinner last night, and I'm still mentally saying to myself that I'll see her soon. It's far more likely, as we at least live on the same continent! But, as I'm not expecting to see my students ever again, it's a little worse.
After leaving Japan I'll meet Mom in Beijing and we'll have a fun vacation together in China. Then I'll come back and actually get to all the posts I've neglected. (Or at least the really important ones like Thailand.)
Wish me luck!
(flowers from one of my cute kid's mom)