Friday afternoons I drive to Hakuchi Elementary School. I do not teach any classes Friday afternoons. I drive there to watch the clock, play soccer with 3rd and 4th grade boys, drink Japanese sports drinks, photocopy some stuff for the following week, and watch the clock some more.
Most weekends, around 5 p.m., I get in my car and head eastward to the big city.
I prefer to take the expressway.
I could take local roads, but that takes at least twice as long.
On local roads I have to wait at stop lights and for people to pull in and out of the various restaurants and shops that hug the streets I am trying to fly down.
The 2050 yen (about 20 USD) is worth the fast ride on the expressway.
A few weeks ago I got out of work early, so I decided to use the local roads.
As the sunset I watched red brake lights flicker on and off.
The closer I got to the city the quicker I had to switch songs on my Ipod. One hand on the steering wheel, the other on my music, listening to about 15 seconds of every song that came on shuffle.
I sat in traffic, pulling slightly to the right in attempts to see what was slowing me down.
I finally reached over, one hand rummaging through my glove box, hoping I could find a single cigarette or anything that would keep me from screaming.
The moment I get on the expressway it is like I leave Japan, the only place I am is in my car. And I am not saying I want to leave Japan, but on a Friday at 5 p.m. the expressway makes it is easy to take a deep breath and feel comfortably alone while adjusting the volume on the car stereo.
I drive as fast as I want because when I am paying that amount of money to drive down a road I think it is only fair to take liberties in regards to speed.
I pick an album to listen to. I can enjoy every song in the order in which it was meant to be heard.
I know how much closer I will be to my destination when I get out of a certain tunnel or when I reach the top of a hill to go down another.
When the weekend ends I never question which road I will take home.