"Do you want me to take your picture?" 

May 20th, 2015, 11am

It’s the first time I’ve heard a native speaker of English (other than my husband) since we got off the plane at Narita.

Forty-eight hours and it’s already strange: my language feels foreign. I’m falling into the lilting, lyrical speech of those around me. By no means am I fluent, but I can manage. It’s second nature to drop my eyes, bow, express my gratitude for everything.

That’s the best, weirdest thing: every experience, every exchange, is worthy of thanks. My speech is punctuated not with symbols, but with the sweet, beautiful arigato gozaimasu.

Between iPhones and the slim point-and-shoot, my husband and I have already mastered the tourist selfie.

We hand over my wedding present, the hefty DSLR I’ve been wanting for over a decade, and stand in front of the pond. I already have half a dozen photos on my phone, unmarred by our tanned, sweaty faces.

I don’t hear the click of the lens. I hear the breeze and birds, the dim roar of distant traffic. The Aussie gives us a thumbs up and hands the camera back to my husband.

“Thanks so much,” I say.

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Erin Justice

writer. reader. chips & salsa eater. read more at www.manuscriptsandmarginalia.com

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