They tried to teach me in Elementary School to ‘just say no’ but clearly the DARE t-shirts and catchy slogans didn’t stick. I don’t know how to say ‘no’ even though often times, I’m fully aware that I’m double-booking myself when I say ‘yes.’ For example, Sunday: I knew that I would be tired after catching the last train back to Murakami on Saturday night, but still, I couldn’t refuse the invitation to Kamikaifu’s Sports Day. A little while later, one of my incredibly friendly old-lady-neighbors invited me to her chorus concert that same day. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I already had plans, and instead blurted out ‘yes, of course I will go!!’
Despite how tired I was this morning, I am SO glad I made it to Kamikaifu’s Sports Day. I LOVE the faculty and students at this school. Even though I only go to there once a month, they make it a point to include me in all of the big events going on. Because there are only 39 or so students in the whole elementary school, I assumed that this was going to be a much smaller-scale undoukai than Senami’s. Wrong again!! The school included the pre-schoolers of the area, plus all of the parents, grandparents, teachers, and neighbors, resulting in a full-out festival. At first I tried to be invisible, but one by one, people saw that I was there. Before I knew it, I was entered into the triathlon relay race with the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. The first leg was hurdles, second was crawling under hurdles, the third was crawling under a net, and the forth (hmmm wasn’t it called a triathlon…???) was rolling a can with a stick. The kids were so glad to see me – it touched my heart. It’s times like these that I feel guilty about leaving. I was supposed to leave before noon, but the teachers invited me inside to eat lunch with them, and I don’t know how to say ‘no’ so I accepted but then really did have to excuse myself before everyone was done eating so I wouldn’t be late for the Murakami concert.
As it turns out, it wasn’t just my neighbor’s chorus concert; it was much bigger than that. There were about 10 singing groups, and I ended up knowing people in five of those groups. Some were kid-students, eikaiwa-students, collegues, and neighbors. Again, I thought I could get by with being invisible, but this is just too small of a town, and I’m just too known by too many people for that. I never thought that just being there could make a difference in people’s emotions, but it might. When I said ‘hi’ to the performers I knew, they really seemed to appreciate that I was there, which in turn made me really happy. The performances were nice. What made them so great was that you could tell that singing was an actual hobby of each of the performers on stage. I know the kids at Senami voluntarily practice during their recess breaks, and the older people must take time out of their busy schedules to get together and rehearse.