The much awaited part three of a story that started eight years ago…

Eight years ago I met some people in a random bar in Kuki, Japan while I was out on an adventure-seeking-night by myself. I got the adventure I was seeking both while I was out, and when I got home. (You can read about that here).

I had exchanged e-mails with my new friends and a few years after later I met them again at the same bar and almost got lost and in big trouble… again. (You can read about that story here).

And now, after originally meeting them eight years ago in Japan, I welcomed them to Detroit with my family, and into my home!

Through social media I saw that my friends moved from Japan to Canada. And while Canada is a lot closer to me than Japan, it’s still quite a drive and not exactly easy to take a quick jaunt up to the Toronto area. But with them only in Canada for a few years, they wanted to explore as much of the area as they could and decided to make the trip to Detroit to visit me and meet my family.

Here’s the thing. I don’t speak Japanese really well. Well, actually, I don’t speak Japanese period. I only know a few words. And my friends, well, they don’t speak much English. But how did we communicate with each other? It’s amazing how far a few words in each language, a pad of paper with a pen, and the mutual language of alcohol will get you. Enough to make you laugh a lot, lose track of time, and miss you train. This time, we relied on Aya to be our translator. Otherwise there would just be a lot of polite smiling. Ellie was also a big help in communicating too, which was really exciting to see.

We did our best to show them around the area. We gave them a tour of downtown Detroit starting with breakfast that included chicken and waffles. Then we all hung out back at our house before taking a trip to the local cider mill for donuts and apple cider.

In between all the sites, it was funny to hear the other side of the story of our meeting. I remember it that I started to confidently talk to them first. But they told the story to Aya much differently. Apparently, I looked terrified and uncomfortable. So they thought they would do me a solid and buy me a drink and strike up a conversation to save me from looking so pathetic. That’s probably the more accurate telling of the story.

It’s kind of funny how I’ve been able to keep in contact with two people I met in a random bar in a small town in Japan. This encounter could have easily ended after one night and just been an interesting story to share with some friends. But 3 countries and 8 years later we are still able to have a connection. Social media is great, but you have to really commit to keep a friendship going. A virtual friendship can never replace a face-to-face meeting. I might not truly know them, and they may not truly know me, but there is enough mutual respect, broken communication, and curiosity to keep us reaching out to each other. First Japan, then Michigan, and now I’m really hoping there is a chapter 4 that takes place in Toronto!

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