A few days ago I was headed to the grocery store. This seems like a simple enough task, right? Well, these days it involves getting the stroller packed up with a diaper bag, rain cover, and baby, plus making sure there is still room in the bottom to put grocery bags to bring home. All of this I can deal with. No problem. On this particular day, however, Riley decided he was going to hate every moment of being in his stroller. Usually, he fusses when I initially strap him in, then calms down once we get moving and he has things to look at.
About 10 minutes into this particular walk, after lots of crying, I had to stop to calm him down on a quiet residential side street. I must have looked pretty stressed out, because an older lady who lived on the street came outside and motioned for me to give her the baby. This is going to sound strange, but I handed him over without a second thought. If I had been anywhere else, I wouldn’t have done that. But she was so sweet and grandmotherly.
And I was pretty sure I could outrun her if I needed to.
It’s hard to explain the stress that goes along with a screaming child. Especially in public. Especially when you don’t know what the problem is. I was glad to have an extra set of hands to give me a moment to breathe.
Did I mention I also had Callie the dog with me?
The woman tried explaining what she thought was wrong, but my limited Japanese and her limited English didn’t quite get the point across. I thanked her, more for the short break than the advice, put Riley in his stroller and headed back home. No groceries for me that day…
Over a week later, I was walking down the same street and saw the woman on her front steps. She came out to the street to say hello, Riley smiled as she talked to him, then she motioned for me to follow her. I obeyed, leaving Riley with Brad, as we went up the walkway toward her home. Just before reaching the front door, she turned, a look of childlike excitement on her face, and I saw a gorgeous flower garden. This garden is not visible from the street. Even though I pass her house almost every day, I had no idea it was there. I was grateful that she shared this little piece of her world with me. She was particularly proud of the Jasmine she had planted in a back corner. At that moment, I wished I could have met her weeks earlier so I could come visit and we could have tea in her garden while Riley looked around at the colorful flowers.
This woman changed me, even if it was in a small way. Her flower garden changed the way I looked at her home. Her kindness changed the way I view strangers. She probably changed the way I will remember Tokyo.
Experiences like this one make it difficult to say what I am about to say.
It isn’t all sad. Actually, we are incredibly excited to be moving closer to family and friends. While we have loved our life here in Tokyo, there has always been a bit missing. Now, as it is with all changes in life, we will have something new to miss. I’m sure not a day will go by without images of walking down the streets of our neighborhood, eating at our favorite restaurants, or visiting with our dear friends.
No, not a day will go by without thoughts of Tokyo and the adventures we have had here.
I’m not yet certain what the future of Tokyo Terrace will hold, but I can assure you that I will not easily disappear.
I hope you’ll continue to stick around even after our move.