Yesterday, I had an unlucky bike accident.
It was raining and I was biking home along the same route I take everyday to get to the train station. Along the way is a narrow road that runs down a steep hill that is unfortunately a two way street. On this road, last evening, there was a small group of kids walking back home from school, and unfortunately, the line they were walking in left no space for me to pass them with my bike.
In addition, my bike unfortunately did not have the best breaking system, and this fact compounded with the slippery road condition and the speed I was traveling at downhill gave me and the kids little reaction time to avoid impact.
The conclusion: I crashed myself into a cement pole on the side of the road, cut, scraped, and bruised myself in a few places, and walked the rest of the way home with a broken bike.
There were two obvious ways of avoiding this situation. One would have been walking the bike down the hill, but as a daily chore, that would also have been the most boring choice (but safety first right?… ugh). The second way would have worked out as follows. Immediately upon seeing the kids, I should have shouted to them to move out of the way in time for me to pass them. I did try to alert them as I was coming down, but it was probably seconds too late, as they only started to turn around in confusion when I was already about 8 meters away from them.
What I found most interesting when looking back at this incident was my hesitation to communicate, which has been a constant throughout this trip so far. I am certainly more confident and understandable in Japanese now than I was when I came here four weeks ago, but that sense of hesitation has remained. After yesterday’s accident, that fact was made extremely apparent to me, and my goal for the second half of this program, beyond just being able to read, write, understand, and speak more, is to overcome that psychological block that has been hindering my progress this whole time.
Until now, in order to have somewhat fluent conversations here, I have approached every conversation with a plan and sentences ready to spew out the moment I begin talking. This is a costly and ineffective approach to communication for several reasons. It keeps my from being able to think of things to say on my feet, so there go my aspirations to do stand-up comedy in Tokyo. It also makes me a very slow communicator, which can sometime be a little unnerving to people.
In other news, today is my last night in the homestay. Starting tomorrow, I will be staying in an apartment in Tokyo closer to my school. While I am looking forward to the simpler commute, I am still very sad to be leaving this homestay, which I have truly begun to see as my home in Japan. After my accident, my host mother was a godsend, getting me all of the bandages, ice packs, and medicine for a speedy recovery, and insisting that I forget about the condition I am currently leaving their bike in.
I owe a lot to this family, and I am extremely grateful for their patience for these past four weeks, especially with my stuttering, and at times nonsensical Japanese. Arigatou!
And lastly, here’s a link to the photos that I have taken so far on this trip, with many more to come. Check it out!