When I was an exchange student in Hong Kong, a friend of my roommates had a teaching gig on Saturday mornings and was looking for a replacement. Dora had graduated and couldn’t keep up this English tutor job. It sounded like a fun job. I would teach English to Mrs. Yoshizawa and her two children. And after class, we’d all eat lunch together.
Mrs. Yoshizawa was an excellent cook and it was such a treat to eat her homemade lunches. I remember once during lunch, her son said Japanese food was always very healthy. She corrected him and rattled off a bunch of fried dishes that defied his theory. I don’t know why I’ve always remembered that, but I’ve kind of ignored the fact that tempura isn’t really healthy or that tonkatsu is basically schnitzel.
My commute from my university to the Yoshizawas’ flat in Taikoo Shing took a solid 90 minutes by train. I had to change trains twice, but it was so peaceful on a Saturday morning when most people were either at work (many Hong Kong people still worked on Saturday mornings then) or taking it easy before going out for the day.
Halfway into my study abroad year and tutoring the Yoshizawas, I traveled to Japan for a few weeks during winter break. Mrs. Yoshizawa and her family were back in Japan during that time, too, and she met me one day at Ueno Park in Tokyo. It was just the two of us–her kids were back at their family home with her parents–and suddenly I was no longer felt like the American tutor on Saturday mornings, but rather a dear friend.
Back in Hong Kong, the Yoshizawas invited me to their kids’ sports day at school. I remember it being a fun morning watching the kids play different team sports before we took a break for lunch.
When I returned to Hong Kong a few years later, I called Mrs. Yoshizawa soon after I settled into my new apartment. Someone else was using that number.
The Yoshizawas had returned to Japan and I never saw them again.