Looks and sounds a little something like this:
Celeste and I became friends my sophomore year at Ursuline, she a basketball and soccer star and me, well… I tap danced once in a senior farewell show! She was two years above me and by the time our friendship really got going, the University of Virginia recruited her to play soccer and smothered our plans for more music videos, costumed outings, and general tomfoolery.
Fast forward eight years, which were unacceptably void of any reunions. Once we heard through the grapevine that we were inhabiting the same continent, she working in Singapore and me Watson-ing in Japan, it was all over. Like a champ, she booked an overnight flight to Tokyo and spent four full days frolicking around Japan with me before catching another red-eye back to Singapore.
We considered wearing matching Sailor Moon outfits for our reunion moment to A) fit in, and B) make sure we recognized each other, but fortunately (or unfortunately– it’s a personal preference) were able to manage without. From the instant we connected in Tokyo Station, we were just as comfortable and goofy as the golden days in Ren’s office and on those Harry Hines escapades, and we spent the rest of the weekend making up for all of our missed memories.
We started off with a 4-hour bullet train ride to Kyoto, where we ran (more like parkoured) around the city, karaoke’d with the most perfect strangers, and cheesed in front of the Golden Pavilion. We then spent 2 nights just outside of Tokyo in Yokohama, staying with the a Japanese couple who are the parents of a guy I met in Switzerland who’s friends with a girl whose dad met my dad on a train in Italy 40 years ago… got that? I say this a lot, but the Hattoris are one of the most lovely, precious families I’ve ever come across, and did so much for us in 48 hours. Celeste nailed it when she said that they welcomed us into their home and lives as if we were their Prodigal Sons. They took us to a great viewing spot of Mt. Fuji, a foot bath cafe (just as heavenly as it sounds), the Landmark Tower (tallest building in Japan), downtown Yokohama, some great restaurants, and the Asakusa Temple in Tokyo. Machiko, who is so wonderful that I might name my firstborn after her, also cooked us some unreal Japanese meals, dressed us in kimonos, and prepared the most comfortable tatami mats imaginable. (Dallas buds– think playroom pallets on steroids. Pallet patrol’s about to get real!)
Celeste and I didn’t have time to accomplish everything on our to-do list (stumble into a geisha, take on a sumo wrestler, buy Hello Kitty souvenirs for everyone we know…), but I’m kind of glad about that. It gives us an excuse to plan another spontaneous reunion and overuse the peace sign the entire time. My only hope is that the next one is way sooner than 8 years… and that my karaoke skills actually match the Adele-like quality I think I’ve got until I see them later on video.
After a full and electric month in Tokyo, on Wednesday I booked it to Seoul, South Korea to visit my great friend Zoe on my way over to Scandinavia… but not before having one last amazing Japanese dinner with my dear friends and hosts from this past month. I so enjoyed the time that I spent with each of them, am incredibly appreciative of all they did for me, and am honored to rock the Namban Rengo singlet wherever I am (maybe without a fluffy undershirt next time).
Finally, I thought it would be immoral to withhold this from y’all. Enjoy…