I peered out the fourth story window of my Thursday morning English class. I’d written a short conversation on the board for my oldest and most-beginner students, a very sweet elderly couple. They were running late, of course, because of the rain. The temperature dropped about 40 degrees F overnight and a constant, driving wind whipped at the galoshes and umbrellas on the street below. I put my hands deep in the pockets of my trench coat. As miserable as this weather is, it usually reminds me of travel and foreign lands. People ask me what it’s like to live in a different country, and the truth is that after awhile, the foreign-ness becomes fuzzy, then normal. The day-to-day stuff—going to work, going to meetings, going home, going to the supermarket, cooking dinner, doing laundry, seeing friends—is done in a different way, but most of the same stuff still happens. Chris and I are exactly at the halfway point of our time in Japan, long enough to feel comfortable and settle into life here.
But a sleek trench coat and a rainy day hovering in the mid-40s feel so quintessentially adventurous to me that it shakes me out of the routine and gives me a bird’s-eye look at myself as well as the city: A rain-streaked window; the gray streets of Shonandai; people closing and opening umbrellas as they come and go from the supermarket where I will go after class and look for Japanese strawberries, mushrooms, tomatoes and my Thursday lunch treat of seaweed, rice, lettuce, mayonnaise and fried chicken rolled and sliced into sushi rolls; the everyday happenings of a foreign city where I live for now but not forever.