Saturday, October 16, 2004

19 and Alive

Well I got bored pretty quick just sitting home.  Because the tumor had been so large, the surgeon had put in drains so I had to keep my left arm still and in a sling.  There went any idea about typing. I called the office, spoke to Danny Nakajima who was my head boss, he told me that I could come in and possibly fill in at the front desk...where I wouldn't have to type.  I was tremendously grateful.

So I went back to work after about a week and half of recuperating from the surgery...but I was young and full of piss & vinegar then.
I was working for three Japanese men...quite different in their ways from each other - that in itself, amazed me because of stereotyping.  I had never come into contact with any Asian people at all, my only knowledge was from history in school, my love of reading...especially Pearl Buck.  Oh, and my Dad was a Marine in World War II so he had very definite ideas about the Japanese.

Danny was the oldest of the three, very intelligent...spoke English really very well and didn't hesitate to tell you exactly what was on his mind at any given point.
"Shimmy" Shimada was an exceptionally good looking man and boy did he know it! He also was the office cut up and could be relied on to find humor in any subject.
Tom - Takashi Takabayashi...he wasn't an adonis, but there was a huggable bear quality about him that pulled at your heart strings.
His english was exceptional, because he had been used as an interpreter for the American Embassy in Tokyo. He excelled at salesmanship, knew just how to deal with a client and was terrific at closing a deal.  Some of his clients were really big names...WestBend, Werner Ladder Co., just to name a few.

We all worked well together, I became very used to taking dictation, typing - coordinating shipments, bills of lading, various needed documentation...and of course, speaking with clients.  I learned alot from these three gentlemen regarding customer service and it stayed with me my whole life.  The years went on, one year turning into another....our lives changed little...until the year I turned 21.

I had been dating Jimmy for a long time.....he asked me to marry him.....I said "yes"....we set the date for about 6 months away.

I showed up at work with the diamond engagement ring on my finger.....everyone congratulated me - except Tom.  I didn't know how to respond to that, so I just ignored it. 

Two weeks later, I go into work to find that Tom is going to be transferred back to Tokyo.  Danny told me that Tom requested it.
In fact the transfer was going to take place within a week...I thought..."Oh, no..I'll never see him again...I was not happy"
My unhappiness continued to deepen as the week progressed..I realized I didn't want him to leave not just New York...but ME!.

The night before Tom was to leave, the office gave him a party which of course we all attended after work.  Everyone was unhappy to see him go, especially me.  Did you ever have a clear defining moment in your life where everything that you know you should do is laid out right in front of you? That night was my moment of truth.  Because we were in the city so late, Tom had driven in...he offered to drive me home so I didn't have to chance the subways late at night.  I accepted.

The ride started easy enough, conversation was light and carefree mostly about his seeing his Mom after so many years away. The mood turned a little more serious when he asked me "Are you happy? with your engagement?"  That question opened the flood gates..all my emotions came to the forefront...my moment of truth!
"I looked deeply into his eyes and said "No, I'm not happy, not at all - the idea of never seeing YOU again is making me crazy"..Tom's reaction was like a bubbling volcano that deperately needed to vent...."Oh my God! YOU feel that way TOO?"
We fell into each other arms and kissed for the first time....I knew to the very depths of my soul that I had never loved before.

Now I understood Tom's misery at the thought of my engagement. Here was the real reason he requested to return home...what were we to do?  He was to fly out the next afternoon..not much time at all.  We sat and talked for hours that night in his car...finding out more about each other than most people do in a lifetime together.
He asked me to marry him, to come to Tokyo to be his wife....I told him I would.

Now, dawn was approaching fast, I knew I had to go up to my parents apartment (after the surgery my Mom insisted I move back with them).  Tom & I said goodbye...he was to stop back on his way to the airport that day.  As we were saying goodbye in the downstairs hallway...my Dad came flying down the stairs at us... took one look, said..."Oh...you are Okay..." and turned around and went back up the stairs.

As I climbed the stairs to their apartment I was so excited with what had happened that I felt like I floated through the air up the stairs.  My poor Mom & Dad didn't know what to make of me...I had never stayed out that late even with Jimmy. They were so full of questions...all I could do was tell them...."I'm marrying Tom, not Jimmy and I'm going to Japan".  They tried to talk me out of it, talk some sense into me...nothing worked.

Then I faced the horrific ordeal of telling one of the sweetest guys I've ever known that it was all over between us.  Not my best defining moment I tell you.  I cried, he cried...his Mom was totally angry...but she was a control freak anyway.  I gave the ring back and wished him well.  I had no choice...my destiny was written.

8 comments:

kimbellina1957 said...

I LOVED THIS STORY SANDI! YOU TELL THEM SO WELL. THIS ONE THOUGH, WAS BITTERSWEET, BUT AS YOU SAID, YOUR DESTINY.:)
MY FATHER WAS IN WW 2 ALSO.......YES, THEY HAD THEIR IDEAS ABOUT THE JAPANESE, BUT DID YOUR DAD EVER CHANGE HIS MIND WHEN YOU MARRIED TOM?
HOPE YOU POST MORE ON THIS STORY AND THEN I WANNA KNOW HOW YOU MET JOE TOO. :)
KIM.

ikoiko33 said...

Wow!!

I'm at a loss for words ... here I am, having completely given up on ever finding "the L word" (can't even bring myself to type it, much less say it) and you've proven that it can happen at anytime, anywhere, completely unexpected!!

Maybe there IS hope!! :-)

Kasey

http://journals.aol.com/ikoiko33/TheReturnofKaseypalooza

mak4419 said...

wow. just wow. you gave me chills..

healthyatheart said...

Great Story!! Thanks for sharing it! :) Mel

mzgoochi said...

Dammit Sandi, I hate cliffhangers! You need to write a book, I wanted to keep going.

cathy0o0 said...

Ahh Love..... Great story Sandi....            Cathy

demandnlilchit said...

Oh I remember my own moment of, "Mom I'm moving to New York!" it wasn't as far off as Japan but it was far enough from Chicago that my mother paled! In the end I still went but returned home a few years later. I was only 18 when I took off on my own! Silly me! lol

hawkinsuindy said...

Hi Sandi-
when are you going to write and publish a book about your experiences living in Japan?? I'd buy a copy, and even advertise it on my book review site. :-)  Seriously, I'm enjoying reading your entries about Japan...you are a braver woman than I!

Looking forward to reading more-
Cat  (aka ichiban, thanks to my Papa-san!)

http://journals.aol.com/hawkinsuindy/TalkingtoMyself/