This is the first cool day we’ve had since moving to Portland almost two weeks ago.

Mia and I were walking home from St. Mathew’s Lutheran Church (which is laden with wood and very oregon-y) and I didn’t feel baked.

Of course, I really can’t complain as at least I wasn’t sweating like a pig.

Ah, those tropical humidity days in Tokyo, I miss them not.

We went to the International Rose Test garden ampitheater and had a picnic and listened to Portland Taiko and watched a performance art piece written by a Nikkei lady commemorating the bombing of Hiroshima.

And as we sat there waiting for the performance to start, watching kids roll down the grassy hillsides, enjoying the wafting smell of gyros and gourmet sausages, feeling completely inconspicuous among a crowd of all kinds of mixed couples, a muslim/african wedding procession complete with ululations and tribal costumes marched through the garden.

All I could think to myself was: Ah, yes, this is what I was missing.

I could go on and on about globalization and food and all that, but what I was really missing living in Japan was the courage to go out to a venue I’ve never been to, and sit in a crowd of people, and not get all uptight about not being able to figure out if it was okay to bring the stroller or not or how we would get home, or hate the long train ride back to our apartment, and not, most definitely not, have to be conspicuous.

Adding up all those worries meant we stayed at home on the weekends more often than not back in Tokyo.

I am looking forward to being out again among people. I have the courage to do this in the United States, but I guess I didn’t have it back in Japan.