It has been over three weeks since the earthquake.
Yesterday my Girl Scout troop teamed up with the Boy Scout troop and went to the local train station with hand decorated posters and money boxes to collect for the Red Cross. It was cold. Me and my girls, in our skirts, were shivering in moments. But, to use a cliche, my heart was warmed time and time again.
The Japanese have the reputation of not donating to charity but a disaster of this scale so close has changed that. When we've collected money previously for other reasons we were lucky to collect maybe twenty thousand yen (really roughly $200). This time, however, even cutting out time by a third we raised nearly seventy thousand yen, and that doesn't even include what the Boy Scouts collected!
Whereas before primarily older women would stop and put a couple of coins in the box of each girl, this time people of all ages were giving, and most quietly folded a bill and slipped it in one box before thanking us and heading off to catch their train. There were seniors in wildly age inappropriate clothing (seriously do not need to see that much, or even ANY wrinkled cleavage!), couples with young children, young professionals, and even a group of junior high students in their soccer uniforms who teased each other as they opened their own wallets and gave us a few coins.
I don't know how long these types of donations will continue as there are boxes and baskets and bottles for donations in every store, restaurant, and business. But it does show that donations can and do happen here, and it is pretty impressive.
It has been a week since I handed in my keys and left the old apartment. The landlord's wife came by before I left and brought us a gift. She then asked when we were holding the ceremony... I paused for a second but gave in and just said we hadn't set a date yet, and thanked her for the gift.
The new place is still a mess of boxes since our new furniture has yet to be delivered. Our studies are covered in piles of books and papers, our bedroom has clean laundry piled everywhere, and the kitchen floor is being taken over by random stuff tossed aside as we search for something from one of the boxes.
On Sunday U picked me up from GS and we headed out to the newly reopened Ikea - us and everybody else, as it turned out! The parking lot was worse than the mall on Christmas Eve, we had to stalk a poor family to secure seats in the cafeteria restaurant, and there was a 10 minute line for carts in the warehouse. But we picked out a bed-frame and mattress, a dresser for me (no more plastic drawers!!), and various storage bits and bobs and then enjoyed super cheap soft ice cream to recharge.
We're learning how to live together too - U is (hopefully) learning how to be quieter when he goes to work on Saturday morning, and how to call or text so I have some idea of when he'll be home in the evening. I'm learning to give up nagging him to do something instead of "resting" (aka falling asleep in front of the TV) because as soon as I announce I'm going to bed he'll jump up and start doing whatever it is (and then wake me an hour later when he comes to bed).
I spent Friday night at home alone while U enjoyed himself at what I am sure was the first of many drinking parties, but on Sunday night it suddenly occurred to me that U wouldn't be heading back to Tsukuba, that he'd be coming home on Monday night after work, I was thrilled... until I realized that meant I was expected to cook dinner!