last year, all typhoons turned before they reached our "hang loose" hand-shaped prefecture, but this year we're starting off the season with a bang. or more of a "BANG BANG BANG."
friday i was in for my first typhoon. not keen on spending it alone in my palace, i crossed my fingers that i'd be able to make it up to tsu to hang with my soon-to-be-missed marina. taking a cue from my neighbors, i pulled the metal window armor over my windows for the first time...truly creepy. i have a decent view of the tracks, and trains seemed to still be passing pretty much on time, in spite of torrential rain, so i bundled up my backpack and headed out on my bicycle for my second bath of the day. without a raincoat (i refuse to buy one that's not cute), i was drenched in seconds but not cold. it just looked like i had taken a dip with all my clothes on, and even i had difficulty pretending nothing was awry as i bought my ticket. i'm still not capable of riding a bike and holding a backpack, purse, and umbrella, but soon i will have the must-have accessory of the season: a car. i pulled out a towel and dried myself off a little, so at least my pants weren't dripping on the bench. the woman i sat next to smiled kindly when i sat down (somewhat rare), so i relaxed. we sat in silence for a while, until a pigeon all fluffed up started taking a bath in the water between train tracks. it made us laugh, and that seemed a good time to strike up a conversation. the woman and her husband inquired comfortably about my trip and my family.
*aside* being in japan has enhanced my expectation of modesty. that means, though i remain modest as i have always been, the lack of skin i see among the general population has heightened my sensitivity to it. when my male students are literally standing in their boxers changing from their PE clothes in the classroom! after class has started!, i am much more shocked than i would have been in ol' sexy america. this carries over to physical contact. good, real hugs are not common after high school, i'd say, and once when i went to hug a friend goodbye she literally asked me why! so for better or worse, i generally don't expect much human contact on a daily basis.
older women seem less prudish and space conscious, but i was still surprised when this darling lady sitting next to me, after only a few sentenced exchanged, reached over and warmly patted my wet leg, asking if i was cold. she and her husband (mr. and mrs. murata, i learned) kept me appraised of how many minutes late the train was going to be: 24, 27, 30...we kept waiting. she opened her purse and took out some tiny mandarins and a few crackers and gave them to me. her husband, upon learning that i was an only child, far from my family, said earnestly with a pantomime to enhance his words, "your parents' heart break."
when it seemed our time was getting short, i asked them if i could take a picture, my parkbench angels. right before we went our separate ways on the train, the woman clasped my hand fervently like she wanted very much to communicate her care and protectiveness to me; i was touched.
after two wet, air-conditioned hours on the train, i was properly cold--truly surprising in the middle of july, so i hobbled through the rain to marina's house to dry out. as we tucked into bed later, we heard creepy air raid-sounding sirens, warning of the oncoming cloud of doom, but we woke the next morning disappointed by the general lack of storm. we didn't even hear a strong gust, thought my girls in the south said the storm was loud and pummeled their apartment with wind.