Saturday, July 18, 2009

Official Goodbyes

Wednesday broke the seal on a flood of goodbyes. Around 11 o'clock Joe and I performed our goodbye speeches three times to the mayor, superintendent and his sidekick, and what I believe was the school board(the superintendent sat on this board, so he had the unfortunate distinction of listening to our speeches twice. In summary, I just said thank you for the opportunity. I told my unwilling listeners that the program was very important for me and that it is also important for the Springfield/Ashikaga relationship.

Here I am after my speech at the mayor's office(guy behind me is Mr. Maekawa, the head of our division of the board of education). I had to make a conscious effort to ask the mayor interesting questions. He was notably rushed and the minute the conversation slowed down Joe and I were out on the curb.

Thursday was my last after school teacher party. It was nice but it definitely reminded me why I stopped going to those things. For one, it cost 60 dollars at the door. As in, I hand them a 100 dollar bill and they destroy it and give me the scraps remaining. That buys a set course of food and "unlimited" beer for two hours or so. For that kind of money in Springfield I could go to the movies and bring 6 friends with a few dollars left over for popcorn. Everyone was a lot more interested in speaking with me as it was my last hurrah, so that was nice. I got a few little gifts, one of which was an envelope with 5000 yen inside. A nice little chunk of change to be sure, but less than it cost for me to enter my own party. Hehe.

The table was set this way when I sat down. Additional dishes came by later, including some sashimi and a big slice of egg plant in some sauce. We had little ice cream cups for dessert. This meal was notable in that we were all given a dish to take home, something I've never seen happen. The dish was eel on rice. I think it must be eel season.

Here is a pretty outlandish beer snack. These are eel's spines, some with a bit of head still connected. I ate the first one reluctantly, but I quickly had several more. They bones are fried so hard that they become crispy and brittle. If you chew on a fried chicken wing's tip, the part where there's no meat but only gristle and fried batter, you get a similar taste.

After the party I biked over to Gold's Gym to cancel my membership. The girls at the front desk suddenly seemed much less friendly once I ceased to be a paying customer. Hehe. Then Friday I gave a little bilingual speech to a gymnasium full of my students. I said a few little goodbyes to teachers and students and then that was it.

The principle often gives a speech with a moral during these assemblies. I suppose it could be related to a sermon without the religiousness.

The view out of the side door of the gym. It doesn't get much more rural than this, does it?

Friday was my last day in my apartment. I did a lot of running around trying to get everything into boxes and I'm a bit worried about how much it will cost to get everything shipped home. That fact that it took so little time and effort to sever my Japanese life felt a bit strange. After a few days and a few speeches I have closed the door on most of my Japanese social groups, returning to outsider status once more.

I am writing this from the guest room at Tung's family's place in Melbourne. No problems so far. The flight was long but uneventful. We are about to run so I will have to talk about that later.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah it was sad to see you go. Lately its been only goodbyes, SAD TIMES! I feel the same way as you, I have a bunch more paperwork to do because I'm going to be living in OSAKA! yeah boi! i'm excited.