It was a little more inconvenient to get to my lesson this morning because of the rain. And I felt slightly sick and not fully prepared or invested in learning Japanese. Or maybe my reticence was knowing that it would be the last lesson. I thought several times about emailing Fukunari-sensei to cancel it, but I realized that none of these reasons, even in the composite, was enough to warrant a cancellation. So I wrote a short essay yesterday and reviewed the lesson, and made my way to her apartment this morning.
I had come with a small gift that I bought for her from the trip to Kyoto last weekend. It was less a goodbye present and more of a response to the box of cookies that she gave me for giving her a ticket to the Morning Chamber Music Concert. I had thought about a final gift but couldn't get what I wanted to give her, a photography book of places in America. I gave her the sour plum tea with gold flakes and before we began the lesson she asked if this would likely be our last. I said yes, it probably would. So she left the room and came back with a desk supply holder upon which she had painted flowers. It was already wrapped in plastic. I thanked her as I envisioned the closet filled with ready-to-go gifts, beautiful hand-made things that she had made in preparation for a material show of kindness and appreciation. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.
We spent a lot of time talking in Japanese, and then she read over my essay. It was short and just about how much I've enjoyed my time in Japan and how I would like to share some of the admirable qualities of Japanese culture when I return to the states. There were some difficult expressions to communicate in it, especially with this last sentiment. I could see her trying to come up with a good way to phrase it. I still have so much to learn about politeness courtesy. It suddenly felt audacious to even suggest that I would be capable of sharing any of the qualities that I had hoped to learn in Japan. Young grasshopper, indeed.
We finished the lesson unceremoniously. There seems to be a good chance that I will see her next year as her friend is suggesting that they travel to America. Of course I invited her to be in touch should she be in the same place. And she encouraged me to also be in touch with her, which I will surely try to do if I'm not too afraid of Japanese in two months. Even if I am. It has been wonderful to have her as a teacher.