Last week and the weekend brought some sweet reunions with old, older, and not-so-old friends.
First, a high school classmate who I probably haven’t seen since we graduated happened to be in town for a week (he’s part Okinawan so this was his second time here and he already has a lot of connections on the island), so last Thursday I met up with him and his friend and we checked out the mozuku soba shop on Ojima and Hamabe no Chaya, a lovely cafe that literally feels like it’s floating on the ocean, in neighboring Tamagusuku. I can’t believe it’s already been eight years since my high school graduation. Unlike many people I know, high school wasn’t the greatest time in my life, and a few years ago I had virtually no interest in attending the 5-year reunion. But now I’m thinking that I actually might want to go to the 10-year. It’s not like I have to even talk to the douchebag classmates I had that are yuppie douchebags 10 years later and will probably raise douchebag children who will also go to my high school one day… and maybe I’m not even being fair and people were and are a lot cooler than I give them credit for. In any case, I’m glad to have met up with my friend last week who reminded me how nice it can be to reunite with faces from your past.
Next, it had only been less than a week since our successful fundraiser and may not actually count as a real reunion, but on Friday night we had a little otsukare party (a congratulatory celebration) among the hula peeps, holding it at the local salsa club where we started having our dance practices a few weeks before the event. It was a good opportunity for me to formally make the many thank yous I had for the many, many people who helped me pull the event off–from those who provided practice space, to the dancers who in a matter of 7 weeks learned three different numbers of a type of dance they were trying for the first time in their lives, to the costume-making helpers, to my mom. Best yet, at the closing of our little meet-up we had an encore performance of Aloha You きずな, which was our group’s last number at the charity event. I think the small group of salsa patrons who got a free show out of us enjoyed it as much as I did. Man, I love hula!
Finally, when I went to India a couple of months ago (which I PROMISE I’m writing more about in the near future!), our volunteer group consisted of seven from Okinawa and one JET from Shikoku-ken. On Saturday, Vicky, the lone volunteer from Ehime, came to visit us in Okinawa for the first time! This made for some major India reunioning time. Saturday was spent giving Vicky a mini-tour of the south. In the afternoon five of us visited the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman. At night, all eight of us gathered at an izakaya in Naha to catch up on the past two months and show off to our guest Ryuku eats like goya champuru and jimami tofu. I also tried a game called “Takoyaki Roulette” for the first time: basically, among a bunch of seemingly innocuous takoyaki hides one or two filled completely with a spicy substance like wasabi or karashi (mustard). Our table ordered a platter of Takoyaki Roulette and then competed to NOT get one of the two (out of seven) balls that was stuffed with karashi. On the count of three, we each bit into the middle of our chosen takoyaki… and guess which lucky person just happened to get a karashi bomb? My sinuses were still stinging for a good three minutes, even after downing my shikuwasa chu-hi :-/. It was fun though! After dinner, our group moved on to the much talked-up Saicolo, a military/Amejo club in Naha (the one where I beat a marine with my umbrella last year, remember?), where one girl in our group goes every weekend and raved all about to those in India who had never had the pleasure. There we got crunk, we boogied down… even two people who had to take the JLPT at noon the next day came out for the fun. Though everyone but said Saicolo-regular left somewhat early into the AM hours, it was still a good time. On Sunday we migrated up north, taking Vicky to American Village and Sunset Beach in Chatan (near the middle of the island) and concluding the reunion (at least for me) at none other than the original Captain Kangaroo’s in Nago (tried the Mexican Tacos Burger this time… it was good, but the Sparky is better). This was where I said goodbye to my dear friend from Ehime… for now, that is! Who knows when we’ll meet again? It could certainly happen.
After working like a crazy woman for about two months straight, this was definitely a much needed set of days filled with good fun and good sun, good moods and good food. Reuniting with old friends offers the chance to step back from one’s day-to-day routine and actually feel grateful about life and the people in it. So here’s to one last month of Okinawa reunions, followed by an indefinite number of more in my old (but NEW!) life in the States. ‘Tis bittersweet.