The deep end

“久しぶり!(hisashiburi: long time no see!)” I heard as soon as I walked through the door. “How have you been?”

“Good, good,” I smiled.

I caught up with my old office over the weekend for dinner. I used to see these people almost every day for the past two years. So after going a month cold turkey, I had half expected it to be a little jarring to catch up with them. As it turns out, it took about twelve seconds before we fell back into our old routine.

I asked about the office and their families. They asked about my new …everything: job, house, life.

“Well actually, this is nice. This is the most English I’ve spoken all week,” I laughed.

My former manager smirked at the computer screen where she was trying to focus half her attention. You have to understand that they were – and still are, I suppose – very likely to laugh as soon as I attempt to speak any Japanese. Without malice and with good reason, I’ll grudgingly admit.

“That’s good, though,” said お兄ちゃん, ever the teacher. “It sounds like a great learning environment.”

“I guess,” I said. “I just feel so stupid. Every day. All the time.”

I tried to speak a sentence or two in Japanese a few minutes later. Sure enough, both of them snorted almost immediately.

So I guess it’s official: after two years of living in Japan, I am now immersed. I haven’t moved to a different country, or even a different city, but it feels very much like it.

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