I love this shot. Last weekend we attended an annual family camp hosted by my daughters’ preschool (and the related outdoors school for elementary kids). We drove about two hours to get to there. Shortly after arriving, I found myself peacefully enjoying the moment. It’s a beautiful spot. Actually, it was crowded with tents, but they were the tents of friends. I felt relaxed and concluded it was well worth the drive and cost of getting there.
Later that evening we had a potluck. I privately wondered if some American had influenced the Sensei in the past, because I believe the “potluck dinner” is an import. But it was like no other potluck I’ve attended before. All the families sat at their own tables and put their dish in front of them. Then everyone took his/her plate and circulated to the other tables. It’s quite interesting going to a table where a family is still sitting (everyone didn’t get up all at once) and take some of their food right in front of them. Of course, this resulted in numerous short conversations. One family made gyoza stuffed with kimchi and natto! I dislike natto, but those gyoza tasted great. The sensei had a pan of stovetop lasagna made with eggroll wrappers instead of noodles. We served boolgogi (marinated Korean beef) that we bought at Costco.
Also, we brought a box of chocolate covered espresso beans back from the USA (from Trader Joe’s, for all you Californios). It’s customary when you return from a trip to bring some local snack food back to share with your friends. I figured that chocolate covered espresso beans (from Trader Joes) counted as “local food” and would be a new flavor for most Japanese people. I was right. They were a big hit, too.
At some point during the evening it occured to me that I had no awareness of being there as a foreigner. I felt no pressure to act a certain way. Noone had commented how extraordinary it was that I could use chopsticks. I was talking in imperfect Japanese, admittedly, but that didn’t stop conversations from forming. I felt accepted without it being a big deal. For a minute, just the thought threatened to ruin the moment, but then I put it aside.
I’m really thankful for our preschool/outdoors school friends!
By the way, that’s my wife and the twins in the purple kayak, and Reia is in the foreground wearing the pink life jacket.