today i had the infinitely bizarre experience of running into two middle-aged, non-JET foreigners ("white guys") at Circle-K. imagine doing a double take because you see another american. well, that's exactly what i did. i was just heading out the door after paying my electric bill when i came face to face with Eric. he greeted me with a slightly goofy/giddy smile. i think that's how most unexpected foreigner meetings feel--WOW, someone who speaks native english! and HERE of all places! i must talk with them! there's the immediate ease of that common bond of being an outsider. then the sizing up of accents--we all have the impulse to place people, to see how like us they are: canadian? american? from the south? the west? he was on vacation from nara...has lived in japan for 20 years. and me at the very beginning of my first year. though we parted after only a few minutes, questions i'd like to ask him are still bubbling up hours later: where did he come from originally? how did he come down here the first time? what did he think of seeing me there?
i tried a ride to the home improvement store, komeri, and was pleased to find it within my hilariously limited range of physical prowess. i'm rarely certain where bicyclists are supposed to ride, especially when the sidewalk disappears, but traffic was light on the highway, so i made it without incident. by the way, i've never seen a single soul with a bicycle helmet in this country. the highest speed signs along the highway say "50," which is 50kph, of course. so i plugged that into my handy metric calculator and mused that no one drives over a roaring 30 miles per hour.
i browsed the shelves for a long time, mostly forgetting what i was there to look for, but i did find a towel rod. i paid for my purchase and stuck the rod in the side of my backpack from which it protruded a good 2 feet, arching over my head like a pole you might stick a halo on. back in town, i stopped at the grocery for some peanut butter, completely forgetting the pole jutting out of my backpack. shoppers shrunk away like i might grab the rod and mow them down (which would be incredibly difficult since the rod is aluminum and weighs about four ounces.) big sigh.
in other news, during another cleaning spree this morning, i uncovered wedding albums from '85 stuck in the back of a closet. maybe some japanese couple owned this house then? there were boxes of dishes and other boxes i didn't have the heart to open. everything was packed with great care and labeled in japanese. why is it still here? it seems sad, somehow. so i just vacuumed around it and closed the closet again.