Yesterday was my first lesson with Fukunari-sensei in over two months. I'm not sure I have ever felt more improperly prepared for a lesson. In place of reviewing the lesson I should have studied in the textbook, I had completed the next lesson in it's entirety (which we didn't even touch). In place of arriving on time, I arrived slightly late, sweaty from a hurried bike ride, and without any socks to protect her beautiful house slippers. One of the new core members had asked for information in order to take lessons and I had emailed him her email address, not realizing that I forgot to delete her email from the recipients list. We had an entire conversation about this email that I couldn't understand because I didn't realize until today that she had received a copy of it.
I did, however, remember to give her a can of premium pear juice from Yamagata prefecture and a nearly two-month-old box of sweets from Seoul, as well as an unsolicited essay I wrote to try to explain my travels in August. She received all three graciously but tepidly. I don't really understand gift-giving here, but I felt a little redeemed in my efforts when her doorbell rang and she returned with a bag of many small lime-like fruits. It was a gift from the people down the hall who had just had a baby, which I guess is a reason to give neighbors gifts. She seemed to not really know how she would eat them all and gave three to me. I guess gifts are gifts, not something to think too deeply about.
I suppose it's been two months and it will naturally take a bit to get back into the swing of things; knowing what lesson to prepare, giving myself enough time to bike there easily, bringing socks, reviewing previous lessons. There's a rhythm to this and I think I can get back into it, even if the gift-giving department remains slightly illusive. Limes, sweets, cans of juice, mystery essays, babies, travels; so many reasons to give. Just trying, endlessly trying, to figure it out.