When I got off the plane at Narita airport in 1986 it suddenly struck me that despite my college education I was deaf, dumb and illiterate. I spoke not a word of Japanese and therefore understood even less. Reading was a total mystery. In time I learned to communicate pretty well, but never got beyond the reading level of a second grader. So part of the ongoing euphoria of life in my new home is being able to read. I still can’t do a “quick run” to the store because I have to dawdle in the aisles, reveling in my ability to read. The irony there is that I still don’t know what a lot of the stuff is. I recognize Stove Top and Pop Tarts and Kraft Mac and Cheese, but I have no clue about the Portuguese and Philippine stuff. The kiddie cereals and sugary drinks are just scary, although I do wax nostalgic at times. “Ah, Froot Loops. Never tried them; never will.”
Road signs are a source of glee. Tootling along the roadways in my little Honda, I challenge myself to interpret their meaning. I love ‘Mowing ahead’ (a guy on his John Deere, butt crack showing, anticipating a cold brewsky at end of day) and ‘Caution: Tree trimming’ (Mrs. Claus and the elves hard at work with tinsel and twinkly lights).
Sometimes, my own silliness overwhelms me with giggles.
Just around the bend there is a hill, waving a broomstick in the air, unable to make contact with an elusive pinata.
A driveway crouches by the roadside, its sweaty palms pressed against its eyes, thinking ‘They can’t see me so I’m safe,’ much like George hiding under the covers on our bed whenever someone comes to visit.