Tag Archives: Generosity

What’s your casserole?

chicken pot pie

As a child, I was curious. About everything. {Actually, that hasn’t changed.}

I remember my mom making a casserole, some sort of meat loaf concoction, and I was salivating and she said it wasn’t for us. Now that was a puzzle. I grabbed the tall stool from under the black rotary phone mounted on the wall and sat across from her at the kitchen counter.

“So who is it for, then?” I tried to conceal my disappointment.

She explained that the mother of a neighbour had died and that when a person is grieving, it’s hard to have the energy to cook a meal for yourself. If someone else makes the food, all you have to do is put it on a plate and eat. That’s how you get through the first few days of losing someone… by having others care for you until you can begin to care for yourself again.

My family has given, and received, many casseroles over the years and I have come to a much deeper understanding of this kind of compassion which is, I think, rooted in community. Being a member of a community.

Recently I’ve been thinking about how DP and I take care of others. Casseroles are tricky. We are not great chefs; in fact we don’t even have an oven. And our community is spread over at least twenty different countries on six continents.

But still we send out love. Instagram photo-walks for the birthdays of friends. Emails and facebook messages of support and re-assurance. It will be okay. This too shall pass. You can do this. Thank you notes. Lending books and DVDs. Sharing the news of a new favourite bakery, restaurant, gallery. Buying dinner for former students just starting out. Hugs. DP is a particularly good hugger; just ask my Mom. Travel recommendations. Even this blog is a love letter to friends… some of whom I’ve not yet met. Listening. Really listening.

What’s your casserole? How do you love and care for the people in your life?

Nothing is ever really lost in Japan

 {Image source}

One day after school, a few weeks ago, DP and I took the metro to downtown Yokohama to run some errands. We picked up our alien registration cards, spent some quality time (and Yen) shopping in an electronics store with seven (glorious) floors and then spent two hours at the bank. (Where else in the world would a bank teller spend two hours with you? Then again, where else would they need to? But that’s another post.) While we were in the bank, it began to rain so we opted to take a taxi home but the 90 year-old driver did not understand where we lived even though we gave him our address in Japanese. “No worries”, we thought. “It’s Japan. It will all work out.” We had an opportunity to practice Zen Buddhism as the driver pulled over to pore over several maps with a magnifying glass and then (just when we smugly assumed we were home-free) shot past our building. We finally got him to stop the taxi but, in the midst of all the commotion and the grabbing of bags and umbrellas, we left DPs wallet in the taxi. Damn. When DP realized what had happened, he ran after the taxi but the old man was long gone.

Yes – to answer your question – there was a lot of money in the wallet along with DPs credit cards and his brand new alien registration card. Damn.

Our colleagues at work were positive. “It will come back” they said. “Do you know the name of the company?” We remembered only that the driver was ninety (more or less) and that the taxi was red.

“Red? Are you sure it was red?”

“It was red. Or orange. Reddish orange.”

“Hmmm”, they said. I knew that they were thinking something along the lines of, “How do these foreigners survive? They are like little babies.” (It’s true. We are.)

A colleague asked if we had received a receipt from the driver. I wasn’t sure. DP dashed home after his first period class to see if he had slipped a receipt into his shirt pocket. (He definitely had not placed it in his wallet.) Nope. Nothing.

Halfway through the afternoon, I bumped into one of the new teachers who said that DP’s wallet had been found. The taxi company had contacted Immigration and acquired our school’s phone number. The taxi company employee had explained, apologetically, that the company office was quite far away from our neighbourhood and it might not be convenient for us to come and pick up the wallet. Would it be suitable if they send the wallet back to us by courier – COD. Um… yes!

The following day, we received an e-mail from one of the secretaries. DP’s wallet had arrived and the COD charges were 700 Yen or just under 9 USD. Sure enough; all of DP’s ID and credit cards were there along with all of his cash.

Japan, I want to marry you.