1/11 has indeed, been a wonderful day.
Last Wednesday I got a Facebook message from one of my friends. I have thought of her fondly through the years and will always appreciate her kindness. But we had not seen each other since 2011.
I met Tsuneko around this time of year in the fall back in 2010. Back then I was a young and foolish 22 year old trying to find her way. I had gotten out of a very abusive relationship and was trying to take pride in being a survivor. I had mastered the art of “hiding behind a smile” when in reality I was using numbness as a coping mechanism.
My mom suggested that I start taking Aikido classes at our local dojo and I am glad that she did. I had taken classes when I was 8 years old, but quit when I started swimming. Aikido helped me to connect with other kind and welcoming people and it was right where I needed to be. This was where I met Tsuneko. She was a black belt even back then, but she was also so down to earth and wonderful to talk with. One evening after Aikido class my friend Sharone and I decided to go to QB for dinner. It was my very first time in QB and I loved the vibrant blue paint on the walls and the fact that they were blasting Prince. Tsuneko and Kaoru also happened to go to QB that night and we invited them to join our table. We all ordered beers and just like that it became an impromptu girls’ night. We became fast friends and Tsuneko invited me and some other students to go to the Seattle Art Museum on Christmas Eve to see the Picasso art exhibit. I still look back on that Christmas Eve as my favorite Christmas Eve. She also invited a bunch of us to her house for dinner between Christmas and New Years.
This friendship made me feel like I belonged. I felt lucky and blessed to make these memories with such a kind person. We continued to see each other in Aikido class and many of us would meet for coffee or breakfast afterwards. Then Tsuneko moved to Seattle for work and I let a little boy drama keep me from taking Aikido classes. I missed Tsuneko, but was happy for her. Back then I justified not continuing Aikido training because I was busy and I really was busy. I was working all the time back then. But looking back I think it is funny how easily I could be swayed in my opinion. I abandoned the dojo and went on with my life.
Last week Tsuneko had responded to one of my fb stories. I had posted a picture of myself at Maku’u Point. I don’t think that I even notated the location, but she asked me where I was. When I said The Big Island she said that she was going to be here this week and wondered if we could meet. I was so happy to hear from my friend and a whole slurry of memories came back to me…
Tsuneko knew me back in the beginning… Not the beginning of my life, but it was definitely the beginning of my adulthood and a time when I was coming into my own and learning how to live my truth. This week I felt a lot of nervousness and anxiety. This was because I hoped that she would be able to see how much I have grown in what is now nearly a decade. I also hoped that she would not look down on me for dating a guy back then who criticized me for my weight and was super critical and actually awful to me (THE THINGS WE PUT UP WITH WHEN WE ARE YOUNG! Also, he is not the guy in the pictures above. The picture guy is Guy. As in his name is Guy. Lol. ) I think the jerk guy is actually the guy who took this picture. I love how my heart and my eyes are full of so much joy here. Through the years, this has been one of my favorite pictures because I was so happy. It was Aikido testing day.
I am glad that I had this week to reflect on my past and remember all that I have been through and appreciate how far I have come.
At first we talked about meeting at a coffee shop, but my partner suggested that we invite her to our home and I am glad that we decided to. I was even super nervous about talking with Tsuneko on the phone (that social anxiety thing) she asked if I would rather meet on November 1st (the day after she arrived) or on the 13th and I said we should meet sooner because we never know what could happen. Maybe she would get busy on her business trip.
This morning Tsuneko came to visit me at my home and it was a lovely visit. We also got lucky and had a beautiful blue sky day. We get a lot of rain here so you don’t always know what you will get but today it was warm sunshine.
She brought me breakfast and I made us coffees. We got to sit down, relax, catch up and talk for hours. I am so glad that she is doing well. We are both happy with our lives and are continuing to grow. She is practicing Aikido and she said that most of the people at her dojo are even more senior than she is. I can’t imagine because she was black belt 10 years ago so she must be even more magnificent now 🙂 I gave her a grand tour of our property and she said that she would cherish this visit especially since it was on such short notice.
I cherish it too and what struck me is the fact that we were able to discuss our current lives and the wonderful things that are happening now. I think that when I was 22 I spent a fair amount of time talking about the trauma and how much I was fighting and struggling to stay safe and heal (with the people I trusted, of course.) We touched lightly on how the people we both knew from the dojo are doing, but then we re-centered back to our current lives. This is a huge sign of growth for me.
Right now, more than any other time in my life I value my friendships. It is important to take time to make memories with the people who matter to you. I am so glad that Tsuneko reached out to me and that we have reunited as friends. With the best of friends, it is easy to just pick up right where you left off.
During our phone call when we were planning a day to meet and agreed that November 1st would be a good day. Tsuneko said 1-11 that will be a good day. And she is right. Today was a great day indeed.
Thank you for taking the time to drive across the island to visit me, Tsuneko. Aloha and come again soon!