It is coming up to my second night at The Watanabes. For the second night in the row, I was offered ‘you can go to your room if you like’, which is just one of the odd ways in which British and Japanese etiquette are alike. It might sound uncomfortable but I rather like it. I can hear the hair dryer buzzing and their toddler’s heavy footfalls as he tries to evade capture / bedtime. From here, with the sounds and smells of a home that is not my home, I can be part of and apart from The Watanabes.
It would be strange to call them Mr and Mrs Watanabe with Watanabe junior. I have know them only as ‘Watanabe-san’ – Japanese style there’s no genderfication of titles. Strangely they only call each other by different titles, never by their first name. He calls her Okaa-san (mother) or by her maiden name and she calls him Sensei (they used to work together as teachers).
It’s gone quiet now. They must be settling their son down. Ah, I spoke too soon. I can hear him shouting for his mum to hurry to bed. They all sleep together upstairs. Now it’s quiet.
The Watanabes have welcomed me into their home. I’m feeling a comfortable shade of a little less me and a little more Watanabe. The quietness is unfurling into more of the house, soaking into the corners, filling up even the forgotten spots (under the bed, inside the wardrobe, sighing down the drawn curtains). Even my thoughts are tuning down to a background static.
I’m looking forward to another day with The Watanabes tomorrow.