Last Friday night. Being the social creature that I am, I did the usual thing of holing up in my room with a book and a quickly emptied mug of tea.
“プリス今どこ？(purisu ima doko: where are you now?)” my phone lit up. One of my housemates.
Texting in Japanese makes me squirm. Instant messaging is meant to be instant, after all, and I am incapable of doing so in this language. Not to mention that all my mistakes are on display as soon as I hit send.
“私の部屋 (watashi no heya: in my room),” I sent back. “どうしたの？(doushitano: why? What’s up?)”
My guess was that I’d need to get the door. There’s no intercom system to get into our house so if you forget your key, you can either get someone to open it for you from the inside or wait until the next person comes home. We all opt for the former.
A gentle whoop alerted me to the reply. “今忙しい？(ima isogashii: are you busy at the moment?)”
“Nope,” I replied, switching languages for speed now that my interest was piqued. Opening doors doesn’t require that much time.
“新しい外国の人がいるんだけど、日本語わからないんだ(atarashii gaikokunojin ga irundakedo, nihongo wakaranainda: there’s a new foreigner here but they don’t understand Japanese),” came an equally quick reply, “キッチンに来れる？ (kicchin ni koreru: can you come to the kitchen?)”
I laughed. Uh sure, I thought, wondering what I was supposed to do. Welcome them, maybe? After all their help in getting me settled in, it was time to pass it on. And, if we’re going to be completely honest, I really should be more social. On a Friday night, no less.
Grabbing milk and my empty mug on my way out the room, I figured I could microwave my now cold pot of tea while I was there.Our new housemate had just arrived in Japan the day before and moved in earlier that afternoon. So, for the first time in a while, I was able to unleash a storm of English in our common room. It wasn’t long, however, for the other housemates to join in the conversation – in English – to my surprise.
To my great surprise.