It starts with an apple:
It starts with fruit, the beginning of joy, and “nice to meet you” and running after your knee-length child with beams and peels of laughter. My eldest has outgrown her school. I am sentimental at the core. My husband and I are treated to meals at these families’ dinner tables with paper-thin thin cuts of meat in March, hot pots in winter.
The one preschool dad who remembers me, what was it, four years ago, introducing myself in friendly, but shaky language. I was the foreigner, the dislocated, the one sometimes annoyed with picky teachers’ requests that hats be sewn with labels differently than I’d sewn it, tightly, a caterpillar of straight stitches, the night prior/before.
I undid the, snapped the, splayed thread and began again.
We leave marks, though, we people.
The scar on my forehead is nearly gone. That was five-year-old me, a child’s mistake in jumping ’round a glass table. Stitches whipped to sew up my head from showing bone.
It starts with an apple, a cut. Later, over salty crackers and a drink, parents told me of our girls’ reach, linguistically; several kids no longer used “ringo”, but requested “apple, please”.
We watch her now take over a room. Her smile, her vocabulary is without bound.
Tonight, we barely made it in from dark wet rain, cold, too, when I’d already received two emails from a school mom. In Egnlish. Teachers took courses, parents wanting to befriend me, well they studied and wrote me.
Yakko suggests that we write journal emails sharing our life at the elementary school. She wants my words and I will do it in Japanese. I will fill a page because of love, because of “ringo” and “apple”. I will take people up on their kindness, their hands extended like we are our young children looking around, saying, “this is how you make friends”–you jump on a couch a little, you pass out a snack everyone enjoys. You look at the bugs up close, the flowers on their backs, and you study passing clouds.
I think I could tolerate rain even when it is cold, wet and dark. I could tolerate it with friends.
Nothing is hidden:
Today, the parents said, “You can’t lie”–translated a couple rounds, they meant my face shows everything, even passing thoughts. Nothing is hidden. Nothing can be covered up. Not even that scar which is fading in any light.
Today I will study light. I will hands that offer and eyes that are bright. Joy that is real is rooted deep in earth. We will go to the park lit with 1,000 blossoming trees and I will bring something sweet.
Our girl will play and play and scratch up more pants at the knee. She’ll show us how her language has grown up and we parents will find ways to stay in touch, to stay playing ourselves. To study clouds and pass out treats and marshmallow candy. To dole out juice and pour out ourselves.