Wednesday night I went with Brooke to a Japanese restaurant that opened while I was away in Japan. I was skeptical, but once I saw the menu and after I tasted the sushi, I was a believer. Good Japanese can actually be had in Youngstown. Who knew? And not only do they make sushi, but katsudon bowls and tonkatsu and lots of other stuff that became my favorite foods in Japan. I will probably keep that restaurant in business all by myself.
Friday was surprise visited by Ben Rosenbaum and family, who were en route to a relative's birthday party in Cleveland. Was nice to catch up a bit and see how big the kids have got in such a short time. Later I went out to Cancun, my favorite Mexican restaurant, with Angela and her friend Mandy. Had wonderful margaritas and afterwards went dancing at the club where George, another old grad school friend, is now DJing.
The mystery gift giver was revealed to be my editor Juliet, who was thoughtful and sweet and knew of my Totoro addiction so sent it to me to welcome me home and welcome me to Bantam. The company forgot to put her message in the box. But luckily they didn't forget the music box!
My laptop is in Texas being fixed. I probably won't have it for another week or so. All of my Miyazaki films were downloaded onto its hard drive. I'm fiending to watch them, so I am probably going to go to the store in a few minutes and throw down some cash to get my fix.
Somehow phrases like "throw down some cash" and "get my fix" and "fiending" have already started to work their way back into my vocabulary, which changed to some extent while in Japan. Whenever I taught or tutored or spoke with a Japanese friend who was learning English, I would try not to use slang or metaphorical language (unless they were at a level where they had learned a bunch already, or had spent time overseas and learned a lot of this type of language, etc.) and I noticed it happening while I was there and wondered if I would stop using these sorts of expressions in general, lose the sense of them and the playfulness and invention of talking in metaphor or slang, but apparently after only a couple of weeks immersed in English again with no one to speak Japanese with, they are returning to my vocabulary quickly. This is fine, but I do worry about losing what Japanese I learned, too. Now I stand in line at the bank and translate what the bank teller is saying to her customer into Japanese, or what Oprah is saying to her audience while I'm running at the gym. This is really strange and distancing though. I'd rather have an actual conversation partner instead of changing other people's words into Japanese without them knowing.
Some days I feel like I never left the states and that my time in Japan was a dream I had, because so many things here seem to have stayed the same. This is a terrible feeling. Hopefully it won't continue to occur very often. I know dream is just the underside of memory, or vice versa, but I prefer my time in Japan to feel like memories, not dreams.