Friday, January 1, 2010

MIT Mommy, this is your life

This was my life – as it re-appeared in 2009.

I found my best friend from high school.

I suppose with Facebook this is not a huge shock to anyone besides me. I found her on Facebook. There she was. I hadn’t really spoken with her since 1993. I feel like we are friends as if the past 17 years were merely a week spent in Florida.
Did you ever see that show?? That was 2009 for me. My past came up and grabbed me by the neck.

Thankfully, I have had a rather nice life so far. It turned out to be a rather shocking bear hug.

I remembered that feeling of giddy love.

Do you remember that feeling of falling in love? Can you put yourself back there? The truth is that I can’t really shoehorn myself into the jeans I wore then. But, somehow, driving down the same road, and breaking a Ford truck, brought me back. Yes. It was very nice, and now I am back in Ohio reminding myself that the best smoke comes from long-burning coals. (smile)

I said ‘goodbye’ to my host father (and enjoyed the laughter of my host mother)

When I was 17 years old, I spent 12 weeks in Japan with a host family in Kobe. As I explained to my children, I went back in the day when we didn’t have things like email. I spoke to my parents once all summer. We sent letters. Do you remember letters? My host family didn’t speak English particularly. Those were incredible days, and even more rewarding now that I can know my host mother as an adult. Since my host father passed away last September, I could only visit his grave. There is something poetic about pouring water over someone’s grave in a drowning rainstorm.

It needed to be done and it felt good.

I visited the most beautiful view in the world with my host aunt and uncle.

Yeah, she was the beautiful one in the pink kimono at my wedding. She is the woman who mentioned to me in my kitchen in Hiroshima that I should stay in Japan to have my children, where it is safe and she could help me. The sea in front of her home bore the first fish that I ever ate raw. I remember playing a counting game with my ‘cousins’ at her home because my Japanese was poor, but at least I could count. That was part of my summer in 1987.

I returned to ‘home base’ in Kyoto.

When I was in college, I spent a summer in Kyoto. From my small apartment each morning, I would lace on my Nike’s and explore the city. My boss’ family, Kawa-san’s family, became my second host family in Japan. They welcomed me as if I had never left. I strolled in with such comfort I nearly forgot my manners.

I visited my work friends in Hiroshima.

I should really say that they visited me. The young woman who picked me up at the ANA Hotel Hiroshima in February 1994 now has a child the same age as Gladys. We have kept in touch a little and she arranged a dinner for me at a restaurant in Hiroshima. I thought that maybe one or two old friends might appear – there were 9 of us. In 1995, the director of our technical center died of cancer. We all remember him well. Everyone in the room had worked with him. Unexpectedly, the son of our former director appeared at the restaurant and joined us.

I rediscovered the world’s biggest smile at the world’s most beautiful shrine.

In Hiroshima, I also worked with clients. Two of them (and their families) greeted me like a lost friend. The one family and my husband and I used to go camping together in Japan. We would tent came by the sea and then enjoy the local hot springs and spas.

My other client and I worked together for a number of years. I recall one particular trip when he and I traveled back to America together on business in November. Since I did not have family in Michigan as most ex-pats did, we stayed in the same hotel and socialized after work. One evening, he joined me for dinner and complained that his children were nagging him about what he would bring them from America.

“Oh, that is easy,” I laughed, “tell them that you are a busy man and you haven’t the time for such things on this trip.”

He raised an eyebrow, and then he laughed too. The next morning he greeted me with the news that his children understood that he must work hard to support the family. He hasn’t time for shopping! The next day, we visited Walmart. He and I carted a full artificial Christmas tree and all the trimmings back to Japan, just in time for Christmas. I only wish I could have seen their faces.

I visited my mentor at MIT.

I hadn’t been back to MIT in about 10 years or so, but in so many ways it hasn’t changed. After a brief email exchange a few weeks before my trip announcing my intention to stop by, I searched for her office on campus. When I arrived at the top of the stairs, the rooms stood recently abandoned. I found her, finally, and enjoyed a morning of good conversation and introductions to colleagues.

That was my life that re-appeard to me in 2009. The very best of that life, I will bring with me into 2010.


amyjr said...

What a momumental year for you. I shed tears beacause it is so beautiful and the most wonderful view was breathtaking.
Happy New Year!! And my 2010 be a wonderful year for you and your family.

Barry said...

Beautiful post.
Have a great 2010.

MIT Mommy said...

Thanks guys! Happy New Year to you too.

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