I was washing a plain, white porcelain cup in the kitchen at work when it hit me again, the indecision regarding how to document my time in Japan, whether I should bother doing so, and to what extent and why. Should I let myself get comfortable, force all the oddness into a common state, relax into a sense of normalcy and no longer be a stranger in a strange land (this would be a huge mental gift to myself), or should I maintain my foreigner’s eyes, find things my family would like to see, take quality photos of “the new” (a compulsion my generation has fully fallen victim to, that we judge each other by more than the experiences we document in a feverish, pointless attempt to impress via social networks’ visual dominance over… everything if you’re not living under a rock)? The kitchen has old silver tea kettles on antiquated burners in front of a window where empty milk cartons have inexplicably been collected. It would make a nice photo on a rainy day, but this would be a misrepresentation of my stay here so far. I don’t care about the cartons. I’ve only seen them once, but maybe I’ll see them again and again, and then I will wish I had taken a damn photo.
Walking along Odori St. to pick up my hanko, I passed a yakitori place, and forgot what it was called. Hanko retrieved, I walked back the same way, smelled the yakitori, and suddenly remembered.
Driving to the electronics store with two of my coworkers in Nobuko-san’s car. She drove me home from work the first day I arrived, and met me at the train station. That day, her car had made some grinding, groaning noises, and my American coworker sitting shotgun had commiserated with a giggle, “Oh, Nobuko, your car sounds so tired!” followed by, “I think you should stop letting your husband fix your car.”
Nobuko edged out of the parking lot at work, attempting to merge with stopped traffic. “Komene, komene,” she murmured to the other drivers, and I joined her whispered “Arigato!” when a young woman (who was smiling about something totally unrelated) let us in front of her.
We bought wireless router, and the two of them came into my apartment to help me set it up. After a half-hour of successful tech-navigation, we pulled up short when we realized we didn’t have the password for the internet account due to the idiocy of the previous tennant. “Grraaagh, Tim! Bakka!” I barked, and relaxed when my coworkers giggled, and nodded in agreement.