Good Days and Bad Day

Last night was the surprise birthday party for Christa, Kana’s former language partner, at Masayuki’s apartment. Normally I’m uncertain what to give someone for their birthday. This is especially true when I don’t know them that well, as is the case with Christa. In cleaning my apartment, however, I came across two paper fans and a blue heko obi I purchased on my last trip to Japan. She seems to love them, so I am quite pleased.

The event was also a going away party for Yasu, Taku and myself. Yasu and Taku return to Japan the day after I leave. A shame we are not leaving on the same day. We could have had lunch together at the airport. At the very least I will see them at some time in Japan.

I was the last to arrive -stupid BART always takes forever on Sundays- and when I did Masayuki presented us with going away gifts. I was quite touched, as I didn’t expect anything. Plus I quite like my gifts. I received two gifts: a decorative cloth with the kanji of many different fish and a calendar with a popular children’s character on it. Masayuki showed me on the inside of the second page a special section. This section has each day of the year with a kanji inside it. This represents which days the Japanese believe are good days and which days are bad days. The day I leave for Japan is a bad day, but the day I arrive is a good day for meeting friends. I think that’s a good sign.

At the party we drank beer and ate oden, discussed language concerns, what each of us will do when we return to Japan, and other small talk. This is the kind of relaxed, personable fun I have missed. Masayuki and the other guys were very helpful answering my questions about Kansai-ben and Japanese karaoke songs (we burst into the first verse of Linda Linda.) They all offered me help in Japan, should I need it. We also made promises to see each other in Japan. I’ve decided Tadao and I have to go for drinks at Kagaya. He kind of reminds me of the owner in that fun-crazy way.

While Christa mused in melancholy about how all our ex-pats were leaving over the next six months, I am actually glad for it. Perhaps it is selfish, but when they return I will have another group of friends in Japan. They’re a really good group of guys who I know I can rely on. I feel myself blessed. While I sympathize with Christa, I know another set of Non-bei will come in to replace those leaving. It’s not the same, but that’s the academic cycle.

As far as I’m concerned, your friends are still your friends no matter where in the world they are. Even the worst bad day can become a good day if you just remember that.

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