– Carl Sandberg
As a stereotypical American, 英語 (えいご / eigo), English, is my one and only language. Consequently, just like a Hollywood movie, my dreams are exclusively in English, regardless of the presence of foreigners.
Though last year, a fellow Aomori JET was delighted to have his very first ‘Japanese Dream.’ This meant in the ゆめ (yume), dream, Japanese was both spoken and understood; subtitles not included. For many of us studying 日本語 (にほんご / nihongo) Japanese, such a dream is a rite of passage. It proves your absorption of the language has saturated your reality to where it flows into the 潜在意識 (せんざいいしき / senzaiishiki), subconscious mind. I marveled at this anomaly and hoped to one day experience the same.
Several months had passed and without even a speck of ‘dreamy Japanese,’ envy crawled its way into my confidence. “Where was the Japanese in my dreams?” Clearly, I had only myself to blame. And it was time for self-reflection. Upon looking in the mirror I realized not only that I was quite handsome but that my Japanese ability was equivalent to that of an 8 month old baby! So I hit the books.
I’ve been studying like it’s the only way to get laid. And thus, last night it happened. My ‘Japanese Dream’ cherry was popped! Now, I won’t lie. It wasn’t the grandest display of Japanese, but it was there in some barbaric form.
In this particular installment, I was on vacation in my hometown of Buffalo. An old friend, Jimmy Wong, and I were paying a visit to the zoo when a group of Asian people approached us. They spoke in broken English and an unrecognizable muttered language. Which is a result of my 脳 (のう / nou), brain’s, inability to produce literal Asian dialects. It wasn’t until they uttered the words, ‘Bill Cosby’ were we aware of their intentions. They had two extra tickets for Bill Cosby’s performance later that night. Why he chose Buffalo on his deathbed tour is beside the point. Upon seeing the \16000 ($160) plus amount, Jimmy and I both knew our wallets weren’t thick enough. But then it dawned on me, “These mutha f***ers are Japanese!”
Just like in 事実 (じじつ / jijitsu), reality, I take full advantage of embarrassing myself when encountering a native of my host country. I uttered “日本人ですか” a simple way of asking, “Are you Japanese.” After they nodded, I said I was from Aomori. But folks, this was a tuff crowd. There was no surprise, respect, or laughter. Not even a smile escaped them when I said “私は変な人です” (watashi wa henna hito desu), meaning “I am a strange person.” I’m guessing that just like earlier, my subconscious was incapable of generating Japanese that I could respond to, let alone understand. But at least as a 夢想家 (むそうか / musou-ka) dreamer, I have a goal. I can’t wait until I have a dream entirely in Japanese. But then again it’s just a dream.