Hi! It’s me! Lily!
So today wasn’t originally intended to be a free day. But, we all were just tired. Everyone agreed that we’d been doing so much over the past few days, and it was a good day to take a break. So, we did.
Some of us went out, and some of us just stayed in or around the hotel and were just lazy.
In our room, Beth took the train to a toy store or something and got some games, and they played games all afternoon. In Rebecca’s room, I guess they did go out, but they mostly just hopped a train and just let it take them to whereever. They told us when they got back that they found their way to a really picturesque small town and had a pretty good time. Emiko and family went to see some Japanese friends that none of us know, which is pretty cool. She wanted to introduce me, but I told her some other time, I had something important to do.
I took Crystal for some sister time. Beth wanted to come along, but I told her that while I’m not leaving her out, I had something, well, Japanese to do with Crystal, and I thought it’d help. I was expecting Beth to be jealous, but she just nodded, gave Crystal a hug and told her to have fun, and asked everyone what games they wanted to play. David was hanging around too because Dave and Sabby wanted some alone time.
I took Crystal to a kimono store (kaimono! kaimono! haha!!) and bought her kimono. The proprietor was talking to her coworker about us in not flattering ways, until I told her I could understand her and she might want to rethink that. She was very nice after that – even gave me a discount. Japanese people really hate getting caught, hah.
So after that, I put my kimono on too, and we went to a Japanese garden.
I showed her how, in a Japanese garden, every plant, rock, and other accessory had a purpose, and they designed it very carefully to create a peaceful and serene place for all the beneficial kami to live. That she and I were wearing kimono because while we were there, we were a part of the garden too.
It was already kind of hot, but very peaceful. The birds were hopping around getting worms, the butterflies and other insects were doing their thing, there were flowers of many different colors, and grasses with many different shades of green. The trees were casting beautiful shadows, and… it was just a beautiful place to be.
“Why did you bring me here?”, she said finally.
“Because,” I said… thinking about what I wanted to say. “We’re going back to Texas in a week. There aren’t gardens like this in Texas. But now you’ll have this as a memory. Whenever you want to, you can go back in your head to this garden, wearing kimono, smelling all the fragrant flowers and listening to the water burble and the wind rustling to these leaves, and you can remember that there are places in the world designed for the sole purpose of… being peaceful.”
I had her sit down on a bench next to me. Maybe it was the obi but she sat a lot more properly than she usually did.
“let’s just be quiet for a while,” I suggested.
And we were. She looked around for a bit, and then her eyes closed, and her breathing slowed a little, and she sighed. “It’s… wonderful,” she said, quietly. I reached up and gently scratched the base of her scalp, and she lowered her head slightly. “That… tingles,” she said.
Then it was just like she deflated. Everything just… left her. She kind of went limp and her head started lolling and she started breathing deeply.
“I… feel better,” she said, softly. “Much better.”
“Sit here for as long as you want,” I said.
She sat there for a full hour. At times I wondered if she even knew what was going on around her, but I didn’t say anything to her. I just let her, well, be. After an hour she said “I’m ready to go now.”
We got up and made our way back to the hotel. She didn’t say a single word to me, but she kind of clung to me as we rode the train. Two gaijin in kimono being a little touchy got us some funny looks, but I didn’t care. She’s my imouto. My little sister.
We got back to the hotel room and everyone looked up, and saw her in her kimono. Everyone kind of fawned all over her and told her how beautiful it was, and she just let them. Finally they saw her face.
“Crystal? Are you alright?”, Beth asked.
“I’m… fine. Better than fine. I’m… Lily took me to a peaceful place, and I…. I found some peace. For once in my life, I found peace.” Her eyes brimmed over a little. “It was wonderful.”
And we played games until dinner.
At dinner, everyone noticed that Crystal seemed… happier somehow.
She deserves a little happiness.
She gave me a big hug tonight and she seems so much… lighter.