Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Day 9 - Japanese visitors

My Japanese guests arrive tomorrow. I’ve been working feverishly to make my house and yard presentable for guests. I want them to have the best possible impression of Winnipeg so I’m trying to pretend it’s still summer. I’ve tried to remove all traces of fall by plucking away the dead stuff on my plants and getting rid of every leaf on the ground. I was thinking of gluing some leaves back on the trees and inserting fake flowers in the window boxes, but that would be crazy. I think. I still need to find somewhere to hide the leaf bags.

Why yes, I did gain about 20 lbs in Japan.

Twenty years ago when Dale and I taught English in Japan, my job was to go around visiting different English classes as the native English-speaking guest teacher. The classes were regularly taught by Japanese-speaking teachers (some of whom knew so little English that I couldn’t even have a conversation with). One of the teachers was a cute older lady who wanted to practice her English. I taught a weekly class at a school near her house, so we arranged a standing lunch date before my class every Wednesday. She would make me traditional Japanese food and we’d speak English. I practiced my Japanese a bit too, but she was much better at English than I was at Japanese.

Her husband was the manager of a ski resort, so they took us skiing a couple of times, all expenses paid, from our ski suit rentals to our meals. They also took us out for dinner a couple of times and we met her children and her siblings. In the twenty years since then, she’s sent me Christmas cards every year and postcards from her travels. Sometimes I wondered why we bothered keeping in touch when we’d probably never see each other again.

But a couple of weeks ago, she sent me an email saying that her and a friend were taking a trip to New York and asked if I could meet her there. Long story short, her and her friend are coming here instead. I’m excited to see her, but am also a little nervous … mostly about how to best entertain them and make sure they have a good time. From what I remember, she is a very easy-going person who loves to laugh. Twenty years ago, it was still pretty unusual for an older Japanese woman to be working – teaching English, no less – so she’s pretty modern and forward-thinking. I think it will be pretty fun to have them here and I’m honoured that they are making the effort to come and visit. And that’s why it’s Worth It to keep in touch with old friends.

This is the last time I saw my friend
(she's the shorter one with the red top)


Anonymous said...

Ellen - what FUN!! And how incredible that she kept in touch with you all this time?! I don;t think you will have any trouble entertaining her. You have 20 years to catch up on! Have a yummy lunch somewhere unique and go visit the Forks (although I find the Forks rather dreary myself), but just do something Winnipeg.

And I thought you were Chloe in those photos. Did you teach in japan when you were 15???


Anonymous said...

Super cool! Enjoy your time!