Marital togetherness – then and now

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Hot and muggy.  Overcast.  85

We dared “Germville” and dropped off a package of masks for our daughter at the post office.  Everyone was wearing masks and kept a safe distance.

Off to swimming afterwards.  More excitement today – we got a new CD with a new water aerobics routine.  Spice it up!

Not much at all in the afternoon.  George watched football and golf tournament reruns – guess this is some kind of guy ritual.

My neighbor, who has the same 480 square feet size house as we have, asked me: “Are your walls closing in?  Is George driving you crazy?”  She lamented that closeness with her hubby has never been greater and more excruciating.  George and I  actually do pretty well, as we are used to close quarters over our lifetime together. 

This brought to mind our “how we met” story some 45 years ago….

At age 24, I sailed – by cargo freighter ship – from Seattle to Nagano, Japan to start my 2-year contract as an English teacher in a Japanese village.  The trip was 17 days across the ocean with only 12 passengers plus the crew.  Very interesting!  Somehow, I managed to catch a train (without speaking or reading any Japanese)  from Nagano to Shimonoseki which would be my home for the next 2 years.

I found out that I was the only English-speaking person in the village.  I lived in a teachers’ apartment complex which was a real slum.  The walls were streaked with green mold. The tatami mats (the flooring on which I slept) was stringy and falling apart.   The wooden bathtub hadn’t been used forever, so the slats had shrunk and it wouldn’t hold water.  I did not have any heat – just a table with a heating element under it with a blanket, under which I would sit to warm my legs.  It was very dreary.  After teaching all day, I returned to this sad living situation and watched Japanese TV alone, trying to absorb more language. 

Japanese (at least then) were too shy to talk with me.  Several of the Japanese English teachers could  write English very well.  They could conjugate verbs, diagram sentences, etc but could not speak a word.  If they could not say something perfectly, they would just not say it!  So, they kept their distance from me.  Consequently, I was very lonely. 

School was 6.5 days a week, so I spent most of my time there. 

After about 3 months in my dismal situation, I started wondering if I should give it up.  I had traveled alone before, and felt pretty strong, but this was different.  Later I learned that none of my predecessors (former American teachers) had lasted more than a few months.

And then……one day while I was in the teachers’ lounge, the principal on a  loudspeaker called me (in Japanese) to the office for a telephone call.  Bewildered,  I answered the phone hesitantly….”Mushi, Mushi”  (hello in Japanese), and this male voice with a deep US southern drawl  said “Hello, my name is George Reid” – and we were married 2 months later!  He was constructing a golf course  in another town about 50 miles away when he heard that “an American woman” had moved to Shimonoseki, so equally lonely, he moved there…just to meet me! 

Not only was he a nice guy, but he could also speak English!  He also had many comforts that I did not have….hot water, a bathtub that didn’t leak, heat, a newly-woven fresh-smelling tatami mat floor, and a sparkling clean aparment. How could I resist?   I moved in to his 5th-floor apartment with a rooftop area where we could do yakitori – Japanese BBQ

Once married, life changed dramatically – with lots of fun adventures.  Now I was accepted into the Japanese culture as a “married woman”.  Housewives invited me to learn Japanese flower arrangement and  cooking.  We met Japanese couples who invited us to their homes, traveled with us, and took us on day trips.  Here we are at a Japanese ryokan (traditional inn) with a couple we befriended…

And, now as a married woman, I could go out, as a couple, and explore restaurants and bars, something I could not have done alone.  We spent a lot of fun evenings in our neighbor’s sake/yakitori bar

As the only English-speaking couple for miles around, we spent a lot of time together.  Since retirement in 2013, we have also spent most days 24/7 together – first in a pop-up camper for 6 months, then in a 21-foot trailer for 3 years.  Now in our 25-foot trailer PLUS the 480-foot tiny house….we really don’t have it bad.  Those walls aren’t really closing in….

DINNER:  I rolled some scallops in a parmesan/panko bread crumb mix and sauteed them briefly.  Sides were  parmesan-flavored couscous and a salad.  I usually buy fresh grains – like couscous and rice, but the stores have been out of these staples, with only these packaged grains available.  It was actually pretty good (and easy)

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