Birthday abroad.

On Thursday the 22nd, for the first time in my life, I celebrated my birthday in a foreign country. Not having family and friends around wasn’t a problem for me, though. All through my childhood, most of my family lived pretty far away, and my birthday always fell right near Thanksgiving, so most of my friends were gone to visit relatives. Thus, I was used to low-impact birthdays. And speaking of Thanksgiving, this was one of the rare years that my birthday coincided with Thanksgiving — though Japan doesn’t observe the holiday, so for my university friends, it was more of a point of interest than anything.

I still had a lingering cough from my cold, so I briefly tried the Kondo Clinic again, but I arrived too late to beat the rush — the waiting room was full, and the wait time they quoted me would have put me well past time to go to kendo. In addition, I learned that it was strictly one doctor visit to one prescription — no refills. I gave up and came back to the dorm, then headed back out to Hoshigaoka and kendo. Everyone who knew made sure to wish me a happy birthday.

I’d been mulling over what I wanted to do for dinner afterward. John and Tom were both busy, and we usually don’t leave club until at least 8:30, so I couldn’t stay out too late, meaning more-distant restaurants were out. I finally settled for the backup option: takeout from CoCo Ichibanya, an excellent curry chain with a store right near Hoshigaoka station. They’d stopped selling their spicy-red shrimp curry, so I got a basic shrimp curry with an extra helping of shrimp and had them change the spice to five (out of ten). This was, as I learned, a mistake. Default spiciness is one, and since ten was the maximum, I figured five couldn’t be too bad, right? Oh, how wrong I was. (The heat scale seems to be more exponential than incremental.) While delicious as always, it was like fire in my mouth — and I like really spicy food! I can’t imagine what ten would be like.

Anyway, I had that and a strong-content drink, both of which warmed me up against the cold. I also received gifts from two of the Chinese girls in the dorm, 1-chan and Aki. The former gave me a metal keychain with traditional Chinese masks hanging from it, and the latter gave me a pair of fabric coasters (both obviously brought here for souvenir or gift purposes, but that’s fine). I neither expected nor needed gifts, but was pleased to receive them. I’d gotten plenty of well-wishes from my dormmates all day, so warmed with food, drink, and friendship, I went to bed.

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