Yesterday, without intending to do so, I had to start practicing for Japan. When it was time to go to school, I went to the garage, got into the car, and turned the ignition. Click, click, click?that's all I heard. Again: click, click, click. It was hard to conceptualize the fact that the car wouldn't start.
I got out of the car, closed the garage door, and started off down the street. On Belmont I hailed a taxi. Coming home again, however, I didn't want to spend more money. I caught the Blue Line train on Dearborn, switching to the bus at Belmont and Kimball.
In Japan, the land of the greatest public transportation in the world, we won't have a car, of course. We didn't have a car when we lived there, either, even though I'd taken the trouble to get an International Driver's License before departure. I was scared to drive on the left side of the narrow, narrow streets.I was scared of not being able to read the signs fast enough. And on a graduate student's stipend, we couldn't afford either to buy a car or to park it.When you buy a car in Japan, you have to be able to prove that you have a place to park it legally.
Riding around with our neighbor Mrs. Furuya seemed incredibly exotic. She drove with cheery, un-Japanese abandon, probably because of her years in California.She had loved the U.S. so much that, when her son was born, she named him Shingen Johnny Furuya. Takeda Shingen was the name of a famous daimyo who fought Tokugawa Ieyasu in the late 16th century. Johnny was her favorite American name.