Reuniting with Ash

The last time we met, it was Kichijoji and cool, and we walked through a park in an epic windstorm.

This time it was summer—airless and humid. The Shinjuku Imperial Park we planned to meet at was closed. Harajuku and Meiji Shrine Park would have to do. We worked our way to Shinjuku for tonkatsu for lunch and tried to hunt down a thing or two to buy—me: coffee and for Ash: ginger flavored alcohol.

The last time we met up we had sushi. This time, it was sin-deep fried and crispy. There is nothing like tonkatsu in summer. I suggest coffee or frappuccinos after at a Starbucks, and luckily there are seats available.

The underground tunnels we traverse in Shinjuku were something out of a Ray Bradbury novel. We flee the heat only to be breathed upon by Tokyo’s summer wrath inside the passageways from Nishi Shinjuku to Shinjuku San Chome. Small blasts of AC from the overhead vents are welcome but woefully too few to make the trek comfortable.

With four hours to kill, I offer the living room sofa to Ash. She could have a lie down as a two day stop in Tokyo would be draining even it it wasn’t with this 35-degree heat. She had arranged to meet friends in the evening and frankly riding trains back and forth was a waste of time. The sofa called. The AC grinned a welcome as the vents deployed the second I punched in the proper keys.

I hit me that Ava and Ash have both been acquainted with that sofa, which oddly tugs people into sleep. Prop yourself in a corner and suddenly your eyes are too heavy and you sink.

Here is Ash, on her way to her next chapter in her life—quietly snoozing on the sofa with a glass of iced mugi-cha within her grasp. I look at her while she sleeps. My TCK sister who I met first on Skype and then in person. There is no apprehension about her move to Germany. She is one of those who does well wherever she goes.

One can stubbornly cling to what one is familiar with. Change can be fought, but why? Living in the past denies you the present and the possibility of a future.

I look back at Ash as she stirs and grabs for her cellphone. Time for her to go—venture out into the heat. I walk her back to the station and our parting comments are, “next time it’s my turn to visit you in Berlin!” and, “yeah, come and visit!”

A cold Christmas for an Australian—talk about culture shock! We both smile and say goodbye again like we did back in Shimokitazawa last year.

I watch her go up the stairs and I think to myself, she will be fine—more than that, she will be excellent. I say “Auf Wiedersehen”, and though she is now too far to hear it, I am sure she knows I said it.

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