Wow, 2010, really?

Sometimes, I feel old, old, old. I have a slower metabolism, I need a longer warmup before I can do anything, I get heartburn when I eat certain foods; the usual stuff. However, considering how much time has actually passed since the days when none of those things were an issue, I am still pretty youthful.

I still struggle with stress reduction, which is the main factor when it comes to my overall health. My preference would be stress eradication, but what can you do? I'm human and I have to live a human life.

We had a typical New Year dinner with the Japanese family on the first. It wasn't totally traditional because they went through great effort to make sure not to feed us any meat and no eggs or dairy to Adam. Vegetarianism is not a part of Japanese culture, at all, let alone veganism. My aunt is an extremely caring and loving lady (but unfortunately still has that Japanese stand-offishness) seems to understand. While lecturing us on why we need to eat a more balanced diets (as all aunts seem prone to do) she mentioned that she does not eat land-dwelling animals. She only eats fish. She explained that it's ok to eat fish because they are cold-blooded, not like mammals.

She has a little dog that she obviously loves just as deeply as one of her own children.

As far as the Japanese stand-offishness, she also understood that westerners are all touchy-feely and she allowed a hug at the airport. So sweet.

Seeing her again makes me wonder if my mother would have been like her had she not been schizophrenic.

Speaking of the culture gap, since we've been here, Adam has started to realize that I have a fairly Japanese personality. I am still a westerner, of course, but a lot of aspects of my personality, which seem like quirks to a westerner, are a normal way of being here.

I'd explained to him that a lot of my values came from Japan. It started to make some sense to him after working with his Japanese mentor at school, but being here has made it start to hit home for him.

I've also loosened up quite a bit as I've gotten older. I think that's typical for most people, too.

Anyway, during New Years dinner, my aunt told us about a visit here, when my brother and I were babies. Apparently, my mother had to be hospitalized in Japan during that visit (for her insanity). My brother was only two months old. During that visit is when my aunt had tried to convince my mother to stay in Japan and raise us here. My mother wouldn't agree to stay here, and on top of that, us kids only had tourist visas. So, home we went. My aunt seems to feel really guilty about not stopping her from taking us back home. She said that because we had such tough childhoods, she feels she has to try and make it up to us now. How, I don't know.

I'm not sure that we would have been happier living here, anyway. Growing up looking white in a place that's 98% Japanese (and not extremely open-minded) might have been just as difficult.

When she had a little much to drink, which isn't too hard for someone who probably weighs 80 pounds soaking wet, she mentioned my mothers kimonos. I didn't know anything about them. Out of nowhere, she asked me if I wanted to wear them. I said that they probably wouldn't fit. She told me that kimonos are designed to fit any size, which, I knew, of course, but we're still talking about my family (who are even small for Japanese people). She then added that they are a set of 3, worth 1 million yen (about $10,000).

My brothers girlfriend wanted to her to take them out, just so we could see them (traditional Japanese kimonos are works of art), but my brother dismissed the idea, saying that they're probably packed away somewhere. As for me, I didn't even want to see them, let alone wear them. I don't know why.

Maybe to me, it represents all the things my mother could have been, but wasn't.

I doubt that she'll mention them again, as they should obviously stay in the Japanese family. She has no idea if I'd insist on taking them. On the off chance that she does mention them again, I'll tell her to give them to my cousin (this aunts grand-daughter) when she grows up (she's currently 5).

I guess for me, having grown up with nothing that was worth anything, the whole idea feels bizarre to me.

When I was young, my mother had a lot of expensive clothes that has had brought from Japan. Sewing and clothes are kind of part of my family's trade, on the women's side. My grandmother worked a little as a seamstress and my other aunt (not the one referenced earlier in this post) works in fashion design. I've always explained the number of expensive garments she owned as one of the perks of the trade, which she benefitted from when she was young and living here. Whether or not there is any relationship between the two, I don't know.

The fact that she went crazy and then ran off to another country, only to marry a drunk and then spend 20 years going in and out of institutions, while also being dirt poor, struggling just to eat the entire time, only to end up permanently institutionalized, seems even more tragic knowing that she had $10,000 in kimonos sitting in a box in Japan.

I guess she had to be crazy to go back to the states after her mother and sisters begged her to stay here.

0 comments so far

Saturday, Jan. 02, 2010 at 7:07 PM