My friend's daughter flew in from Japan last month for a visit to New England. She hasn't been to the US before, but she's been to a whole host of other really cool places--Fiji (for a month), Spain, Italy, Cambodia, Taiwan, and Australia. We spent one evening looking over her pictures of her awesome trips.
So, E was five years old when I left Japan. She is now old enough to drink, which I think gives you some idea of how old I am (here's the spoiler--I'm wicked old). We did a lot and we're going to keep it up until she leaves this week.
First, if you are in Massachusetts and you want a real taste of history, you should absolutely go to Plimoth Plantation, which includes the Wampanoag Homesite. Plimoth Plantation is a living history exhibit; there are true-to-life reproductions of the homes the English lived in during the 1620's, and actors in full costume who speak in the dialect and tell you what you want to know about their life there. They are acting, so if you ask them anything about a historic event that takes place after the year they're supposed to be living in (I believe this year it's 1623), they will feign ignorance. They will also profess opinions that the people they are playing held--so keep in mind that these are actors and they do not necessarily agree with what they're saying. This year, there is a section of the settlement that also has people who are not in costume who can answer any questions you have about things that happened later in history, etc.
Plimoth Plantation also has the Wampanoag Homesite, which features people--all Native American, but not all Wompanoag--in traditional Wampanoag clothing from that time of history. They are not role players so they can and will answer questions about modern times and will not pretend to be ignorant of things like who Barak Obama is or where South Carolina is. We were talking recipes with the staff member there because let's face it, FOOD IS HOW WE ROLL.
Yes, we went all around Boston and saw all of the local sites. The Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall, Old North Church, The Old South Meeting House, Newbury Street, The North End, Beacon Hill, and did the requisite bus tour where we went by the Charlestown Navy Yard. We went to Hyannis and also went to Chatham Light. We went to several places on the Cape, including South Cape Beach and Craigville. We went to Salem and toured the House of Seven Gables. We had afternoon tea with my friend, her husband and his mother (who made the tea; she used to host them regularly in her house). We hung with my parents and had dinner with them. We hung out with my friends. My cat and my friends' cats and dogs all kind of fell in love with E, to the point where I joked we needed to make sure they didn't sneak into her suitcase to go home with her.
We also went shopping for things like towels and linens after she saw a circular in the Sunday paper and was kind of amazed at the prices. "Um," she said, "can we go there?" So we went because as she explained, she needed things like sheets and towels and blankets and bathroom things; she was going to move into her own apartment a couple months after returning to Japan.
We froze because it was still cold and intermittently snowy in New England. She came prepared--or thought she did. But a warm coat in Osaka, Japan is like wearing a light jacket in New England. I have a long, puffy down coat that is a sleeping bag with sleeves. I made her wear that.
We also made homemade udon and miso soup (I'll post the specifics later). We have one thing in common: As she was kneading the dough, she said, "You know, this is my first time making this, so here's hoping it comes out well." Which, maybe is too much information, but a lot of the time I do the same thing when I have people over for dinner. (THANK YOU ALL FOR BEING MY GUINEA PIGS.)
She enjoyed my bread, got the recipe, and is determined to make it. I am not sure if the ovens there will do the job (ovens aren't a real fixture in Japanese cooking; in my time there I never lived in a place that had an oven, just a stove and maybe a small broiler). If anyone can MacGyver it, it's E.
And yes, I was a wet, sopping mess when I had to drop her off at the airport. She was five when I left Japan and she's 22 now. She is old enough to drink. She is old enough to vote. She is old enough to live on her own and get married and/or have kids. She is starting a full-time job soon.