HI! It’s me! Lily!!!
Ai’s in Houston!!! Awww.
So this morning we helped Ai pack, and then we threw her a goodbye pizza party!!! She never had American pizza, so we got a few different varieties, and some soda, and pigged out!!!
OMG it was good!!!
Oh, and we invited a few people. Jack, Grace, and Clint. Jack and Grace because, well, Jack, and he brought Clint so he could (ahem) say goodbye to Ai properly. And Grace because, well, she’s Grace and everyone loves her. And she likes Ai and pizza, so it all worked out.
Ai likes Hawaiian pizza. She says the other kinds are good, but that’s her favorite. I told her that that’s a contentious topic in America. She shrugged. “Some gaijin don’t like sushi either. Their loss.”, she said matter-of-factly. You’ve never seen such a face of bliss as when Ai sunk her teeth into a piece of Hawaiian pizza.
Honestly, I couldn’t argue. We all have different tastes.
So she gave Clint a (rather long and slightly scandalous) goodbye kiss and told him to keep writing her or else, and he laughed, and said he would, and gave her a much less scandalous but surprisingly affectionate headpat. That always makes her giggle, and swoon a bit. She gave Grace a hug and kiss on the cheek, and Grace cried a little. But she’s five, she’ll cry at anything, so I told Ai to not feel too bad about it. And Jack bowed and said it was really nice to meet her. She gave Marie a few scratches too, and said she was serious about wanting a dog when she got home. Marie happily licked her face in return.
Ai sniffled a little, and we packed all her stuff into the car, and Dave, Ai, and I drove to Houston. It was Dave today because he took the day off (New Years Day celebrated), Sabby wanted to work at the store, and Sabby doesn’t want me driving that long by myself. On the way I asked Ai if she enjoyed her trip.
She thought for a bit about what to say, and then said “Yes, I enjoyed it very much. Texas is a beautiful place, there are many things to do, people are very friendly, and… and I’ll miss it here. A lot. But Japan is home, and I will be glad to arrive back home, with my parents and my brother. I love how you celebrate Christmas, and I’ll always remember New Years, and… and… I know we will see each other again, but even if I don’t, I’ll miss you.” And she sniffled and wiped her eyes.
She said she’d miss Clint too and was really happy to meet him. She doesn’t know if it will last – in fact, she expects it won’t because Austin to Japan is a long long way away… but no Japanese boy would have kissed her like he did, and that will always be a good memory. Her parents might not be happy, so she might not tell them. You don’t tell them either!!! All of you!!! Keep it to yourself!!! Hahaah!!!
She even says she’ll miss David, strangely enough. I asked her why. She said, because he was honest. That surprised me, but I guess I can see it. For all the drama he caused, he was honest about it. She said Hiroshi is a lot more reserved and she’s not always sure what he’s thinking, but she knows what David is thinking. Hmm.
Even if it’s about her body. Sigh.
She respects that kind of forthrightness. It beats tatemae and honne. She’d rather he didn’t, but she still respects it.
I think I’m going back to Japan this year. I have to. I have to. It’s… it’s home too, you know? It’s where my birth mother is from, and my aunt and my cousins and… and I can’t stay away. But next time I think I’ll just stay in Saitama or Tokyo and not go traipsing all over the country. That was fun but it was exhausting.
Anyway, eventually we showed up to Emiko’s house. She’s going to stay a day there, and then Emiko will take her to the airport. It’s not just because it’s more convenient, but Emiko wanted a little time with her too, and Ai thought that was perfectly fair. I wonder what they’ll do tomorrow – I’m sure there’s lots of stuff to see in Houston. And Aika and Mika should have a little time with their cousin as well.
So Ai’s at Emiko’s right now. I miss her. A lot. She’s family, y’know? I mean, Dave and Sabby and Beth and David are family, but Emiko and Ai and her parents and Hiroshi… they’re also family. Just like Robert and his wife and Rebecca.. though I don’t know them. I hope they’re family too. I mean not just actual family, but… real family.
I have a lot of family. So much more than I had when I was found by the side of the road in 2020. I… maybe it was a fair trade after all. My memories, for all the people I love. Maybe it’s a fair trade. I’m not sure I ever want my memories back if it means I have to give them up.
And you all as well!!!