Thursday, March 26, 2009

"There is a kindness that is not buried in the busy city."

This was a while ago, but March Third was Hina Matsuri, or Girls' Festival. It's traditional to display an elaborate set of dolls, and I was invited to see that of a neighbor. There's a very specific placement that represents the court hierarchy, and everything is incredibly detailed. This set in particular was 94 years old, inherited from her mother. I can't imagine the care it must take to preserve them, unpack and pack them away every year, arrange them on display. It's a practice that is fading as younger people live in small apartments and don't have the expansive house space required for this huge stand. Something like that in my living/dining/bedroom, and I wouldn't be able to climb down off my bed. Also, I suppose families with young children would sincerely reconsider having something doll-like within toddler reach. But being able to see them, kneeling on plump cushions so my head was even with the first level, seeing how every doll was unique and perfect, I wished this was a tradition every single person in the country would take part in.


The principal and various teachers had been asking me for a while if I would be staying at this junior high. And I had to honestly reply that my company hadn't informed me yet. My curiosity finally got the better of me, and I emailed the company last week, and got the reply that yes, I would be able to remain. I told the other English teachers, but didn't have a chance to tell the higher-ups. Tuesday was the last day of my old contract. Monday the principal comes up to me, and I catch something about "a speech tomorrow morning." "Tomorrow morning," I repeat dumbly, and seeing my look of confusion he sends the head English teacher to clarify.

"Do I make a speech if I'll still be teaching?" I asked her.

She answered, "Because a lot of the other teachers will be going to other schools." I took that as, though I needn't do a "Goodbye" for myself speech, it would be more of a "Thank you" to the leaving teachers speech. She went up the principal's desk after speaking to me, so I assumed she was telling them I would be continuing and should I make a speech anyways? Since she didn't come back to tell me, "Oh, in that case you don't need to," I assumed my show was still on. I carefully figured out the proper phrases along the lines of "Thank you for everything you've done this year and I'm glad to have met you." Cue sleepless night.

The next morning the usual announcements, and I hear the vice-principal say, "And now, because it's Emily's last day - " "But I'm not leaving," I say to the English teacher nearest me. But I'm already being beckoned up to the front and handed a microphone. I ditch the longer thank yous  since that didn't seem to be the situation - and just say, "I'll be continuing at OO Junior High from April. Please take care of me!" Everyone started laughing, so I guess the irony of "She's leaving!" "No I'm not!" wasn't lost on them. "I'm not dead yet!"

I felt rather bad for taking up precious meeting time with my not-announcement, and even worse in the evening when we had a party for the actually leaving teachers, and I was given the same present as them because it had been prepared under the assumption that I was also. Hopefully no one was thinking, "Dang, I thought we were getting rid of her."

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