In first grade my teacher, Mrs. Saltzman had us write stories in our “writing books” every week. One week I wrote about two mice that were married. The husband wore a blue plaid shirt and the wife wore a pink dress–how progressive, I know. This story, the shortest ever to be written, was about the husband coming home from work and saying that he has the next day off. I know I had my parents in mind as I wrote this, because it felt like my dad was always at work. The wife was super happy and the mouse couple was thrilled to have the day together. I proceeded to write about what they did that day, but I don’t quite remember what it was. All I know is that they had pancakes for breakfast. Then they “went to bed and brushed their teeth.” I only remember this because once in a while when the teacher thought the student wrote something good, she would have he or she make a small picture book out of their story. I was chosen to make one, and my teacher and the teacher’s aid made me read it to two or three men in a small room with what I remember to be a big table. When I presented my groundbreaking story, the teacher’s aid corrected me, “you mean brushed their teeth and went to bed.” I looked at her and quietly nodded.
This isn’t the first time I had been tested in a way. In second grade I was put into another small room with a woman, and she asked me all kinds of questions. The only question I remember her asking was the question that I did not know the answer to: “What is a penny?” Stupid stupid stupid! You know what a penny is! You know what color it is, you know what president is on it, you know how much it costs, so why didn’t you say all of that? I was completely blank. It was as though she asked me to find the molar masses in a chemical compound. No second grader should know how to do that. But a second grader should know what a penny is. It was so simple that I couldn’t respond to it. I thought it was a trick question. I thought there had to be more to what she was asking. Nope. I thought these tests were because I was smarter than other kids, but in a different way. I wasn’t good at math, I wasn’t the brightest in my academics, but I knew more than my peers. Really, these tests could have just been administered to see how dumb I was.
Anyway. The point of this childhood story isn’t about me being brilliant for my age, or stupid for my age. The point of this story is about the one I had written. When I wrote about the mice, I did not have any real emotional attachment to it. I just thought that it would be normal for a couple to be happy that they could be together. I think what I have written thus far is more entertaining than the actual point of it all. I thought of this memory because the other day Dan told me that he was supposed to have an office day (8 hours instead of 12), on Tuesday, but they gave him the day off instead. I was that mouse wife in the pink dress, except I think I was wearing joggers and a thermal shirt. I was so genuinely happy to hear this news. Not only would he have the day off, but he would also have a three day weekend (Sun, Mon, Tues). I have learned not to think about weekends as Saturday and Sunday anymore because of how odd his schedule is. It’s always changing. But yes, I was so happy to hear this because I am most happy when we are together. I go through a depressing four days not doing a whole lot, wait for him to come home, go to the gym together, eat, and then go right to bed. And then when he is off, I feel life in me again. Wow, I just realized how dependent I am. Well, that’s how it’s going to be until I start volunteering at the Red Cross as a social worker. Oh yeah, I’m doing that at some point.
So you must understand, especially since Dan is pretty much the only thing I have here, the days that he is home is when the blood fills my cheeks and a joy surges into me. We watch silly shows, we laugh at stupid things, we cook together, we have fun together. I don’t want to do those things alone. I like doing those things with Dan. In general, I need people. I need to connect with things. Sending messages and skyping isn’t enough for me sometimes. Kumo brings me joy but he sleeps a lot. Which makes me sleep sometimes. Who am I kidding, I love to nap. So until I have things going on just for me, like a job, a routine, etc. I will be bored and lifeless. Like I have written about before, it is tough to not be able to do things on your own. So each day I am home alone, I get into a deeper hole where all I do is lay on our ugly flowery yellow couch, and watch TV shows. Occasionally Kumo will lay on top of me or whine to go outside or whine to come back in. I will usually wash dishes to make myself do something. It’s not as though I am completely stuck in the apartment, but I can only walk so far in this weather.
This past week it snowed for two days straight. It didn’t even accumulate that much, but every time you looked outside, it would look like a blizzard because of all the wind. There would be periods where it was scary outside, where all you would see is white, as if the wind was solid. And there would be periods where it was magical. The snowflakes whirling in the wind looked like something from the movie Frozen. It was lovely. But cold.
Moving on, I am excited for our household goods to be shipped over here because I don’t think I will really feel like this is my home until our things come. For now we only have furniture that housing lent to us. They lent us these ugly couches and chairs and gross old lamps. These things might have been considered nice in the 80s? Probably not. And we don’t have a whole lot in general right now. We have two lame plastic plates, some cheap utensils, a pan, and a pot. We don’t have a bath mat or a decent shower curtain right now either. The one we do have looks like a solid blue tarp. Homey, right? I don’t need expensive things to be happy. I do need to have some sort of personality in our things though. We are doing the bare minimum right now because we got all of our home stuff from the bridal shower and are still waiting for its arrival. We did recently go to the furniture store on base here and purchased a TV stand. So that was exciting. Sigh… These are the highlights of my life these days. TV stands. My next highlight will be if Kumo ever decides that it is ok to do his business on walks. He refuses to.
I hate going outside in the cold but I took Kumo on a long walk when the snow calmed down. I ventured farther than I have alone, to the dog park. He was really excited and would want to run now and then, so I ran with him. Whenever I do this, there is a big smile on my face, and I giggle. Then my teeth are way too cold. Something about running with this pup is so much fun. I guess I can feel his joy, and it makes me happy. Nobody was there so he ran around freely. He is still afraid of other people.
On this walk was the first time I felt like I am supposed to be here. Lately I have been repeatedly asking myself, “What am I doing in Japan?” But for whatever reason, it felt right to be here with this silly fluffy dog, the knowledge that I will see Dan in a few hours, and silence around me, other than the crunching of the snow, Kumo’s panting, and my sniffling. I had a moment of feeling like everything is going to be fine. And everything is going to be new, and not always so fun, but an adventure, nonetheless. Instead of dreading the days, and making myself feel sad by thinking about how old each dog at home will be the next time I see them, I should be excited that I am in a whole new world (as I break into the song from Aladdin, and my voice cracks). I am going to try to not have these expectations of constantly being hyped up that I am living in a different country. Instead, I am going to let the feelings flow, but stay as positive as I can. Which includes lots of prayer and talking to friends about my negative thinking.
That’s all I have right now. Not a whole lot, but enough for me.
Here’s a perfect image that Dan found for me after reading my last entry: