There was a moment tonight when I became filled with an overwhelming sense of love for Fukunari-sensei. An hour earlier I had been hoarding the future, trying to negotiate and calculate weekend plans that would result in happiness. I rode to her apartment, in need of something I was sure I wouldn't find there, an uneasiness that detracts from the most pleasant things around us. And then the moment opened in her presence. Maybe it was her, maybe it was me. Something about her tireless need to teach couched in a breath of vast patience and understanding. Something about her presence at my side, standing next to my chair the whole time, leaning over the table with her pencil, writing with an intensity beyond herself, the lead breaking, the characters blurred. And yet always so clear, her explanation never vague despite millennia of accrued linguistic divergences. Something about her skin, like cream, probably because of the foundation she uses which seems as natural as if nature had made it; her creation, something from her. Something about her eyes, so focused and unwavering yet aware of the periphery; calculating the coming minutes from the needs of the present.
Sometimes I wonder why I study Japanese at all. I've learned enough to know that I will not master it in the coming year, before I leave Japan. And the chances that I will use the language skills I've acquired thus far is quite low. I wonder if Fukunari-sensei has any idea of the value that I get from these lessons; what I'm actually learning from her, the reason that it is worth more for me to visit her than for the simple prolongation of the distracting yet thrilling hobby of learning a language I won't use. Is it possible to know all the relevant values when we try to sculpt the future to perfection? Sometimes things appear and we don't know from where, but there they are, waiting for us.