Sunday, June 29, 2008

going back to the states

When I first got to Saipan, it wasn't long before I heard of David, a licensed massage therapist who also lived here. His name was mentioned here and there as I met people and talked about my possibilities for practicing massage on the island. About a month ago, one of the Baha'is mentioned to me that their friend was leaving the island and had a massage table for sale. So he gave my number to David and we arranged a meeting. Neat how that worked out huh?

David runs on island time, or maybe it's "David time"-either way, it isn't that much different from my time and so it took us a couple tries to meet. I went to his house, and met his wife Teri, and their two year old son Kellan. I spent almost an hour there with them, as they shared their experiences of the last eight years with me. I didn't buy the table on-the-spot, but told David I'd call him about it.

I did buy the table from him, and we threw in all his sheets and a few bottles of oil to go along with it. He also offered to "transfer" several of his English tutorees to me. Sounded like a great idea to me, especially since I hadn't made any money since the 100 bucks I won in the soccer tournament. Now that I have the table I am starting to bring in a little bit of income, but tutoring takes a small amount of time and seems to be a good way to make some extra cash.

So on Thursday I met David at two of his student's apartment. I met Han and Joseph, sixteen and fourteen years old respectively, and their guardian Barbara. Koreans who all speak way better English than I do Korean-although I am having them teach me a little bit. I also bought a book called 'Making Out in Korean' which has lots of slang. So in effect, I'm not only trying to speak a language I don't know, but I'm trying to be "cool" to a couple of younger guys. This could be an international disaster of epic proportions. I get to see Han five days a week and Joseph twice.

The next day I went to David's to meet him and to be introduced to another one of his students. I proceeded him at the arranged time, and so when he and Teri arrived, I was suddenly aware of how little time they had before they left, and how much they still had to do. After a little shouting, David and I left and I followed him to the bakery where he met his next tutoree, an older-than-me Japanese woman named Sukiko. Unfortunately, he had neglected to tell her about his leaving. So our meeting consisted of a short explanation of his leaving, which involved a lot of Japanese, which David apparently understands and speaks a very little. Which is a very LOT more than I speak it. He left us to talk more, and she opened her English reader and we spent an hour speaking English. Sort of. I get to see her only once a week.

I spoke with David later and realized that it was physically impossible to get all of the stuff done that he needed to in the remaining twenty-four hours of his time on Saipan. Remembering how much assistance I had, and am still getting, that made my trip possible, I offered a little assistance in the form of picking up some boxes and taking them to the post office for them. I am pretty sure I knew deep down that it was going to be a lot more that.

So I now have a key to their house. Books. English-teaching materials. Food from their pantry. Three hundred dollars to mail three 50 lb. boxes and seven smaller ones. A pile of stuff to go to the garage sale store. I was there to help load the van from Teri's work with their stuff. I saw Kellan throw a fit as he was held by his mom, screaming for his nanny as the van drove away. I watched the nanny, Ann, fail to fight back sobs as she said goodbye to a two-year old she had helped raise. I talked with David about the way he was avoiding the emotions of the situation by putting every thing off to the last minute and rushing around at the eleventh hour. He admitted to it, but as we were getting ready to leave the house, with Teri and Kellan already gone, he bent and picked up a little sand shovel kit from the pile of give-aways. He muttered something to himself and then looked up at me and I could see the memories threatening his composure. He swallowed tears and said it was time to go. He had done most of his packing between 1:30 and 3 pm, although just like me, he didn't get everything done.

After a few stops, I got him to the airport-where he used to be employed by TSA, met up with Teri and Kellan, and along with her boss, said good bye to them all. I drove home to finally put away my groceries from an earlier shopping trip. When I reached my house and opened the rear door, my heart sank. Kellan's car seat was in the back seat-they needed it for him on the plane. I looked at my watch. 4:24. Their flight was scheduled to leave at 4:45. I called David. He answered. I live about 14 miles from the airport. 40 mph is the highest speed limit sign I have seen on this island. "I'll try to get it there" I said.

They got it. In the nick of time. One of his former co-workers met me at the TSA checkpoint and ran it to the plane. I realized how stressful ones leaving can be on the people left behind. Thank you again to all of you who made it possible for me to follow a dream. I love you all so much.

To sum it all up...on the race to the airport, I noticed that the car's alignment got a little bumpy around 70 mph. In the states, I would take the car to the mechanic and tell them about my problem and ask them to fix it. Here, if I took it to a mechanic, they would say the much more-obvious (and cheaper) solution.

"Don't drive 70 miles per hour."


Momtecki said...

Keep going 70mph, you're doing fine,

ksawhill said...

I felt like I was re-living March 30th (? was that the date?)and 31st! Beautiful story.

ryran said...