I have a lot to say about my trip to the Republic of Korean and Japan – including hikes, cityscapes, people and a whopping dose of enlightenment.
For now, though, here’s my major highlight – a reunion with a high school friend I hadn’t seen in 19 years. Davíd (aka Zee Frenchman), myself and Farhad – whose parents are from Iran – were pretty much Larry, Moe and Curly … though we had an occasional Shemp and Joe along. Throughout my junior and senior years of high school, we ate lunch, went bowling and engaged in fun verbal fisticuffs. By the time Davíd returned to France (after nearly being my college roommate), I felt like part of his family. Farhad actually did join me for a year in the ASU dorms.
I found Davíd online a few years ago and we had some sporadic contact. Just weeks before our trip, Sarah said “hey, isn’t The Frenchman in Tokyo?” YES! The light bulb went off, and I sent messages to not only his last-known email address, but his sister’s, too. It so happened that I sent it to one of those addresses people have and rarely check (I’m also guilty). By a stroke of luck, he happened to check it. And the reunion was on!
When we checked into the Sakura Hotel near Jimbocho Station, one of the managers came out and informed “Sarah-san” that a friend was looking for us. Moments later, David was there. Sarah returned from a quick freshen-up to find us about to dive into iced coffees before heading out on a quick jaunt of Tokyo sites.
Even after nearly 20 years, the rapport was still there – the jokes, the banter … but we also mined a thread of serious conversation as the day went from Electric Town to dinner with his wife, Mika (who makes one nice couscous!). We discovered a similar political direction and outlook on life, and I spied more than a few items on his book shelf that any visitor would also find on mine. Of course, he’s still a Magic: The Gathering-playing nerd!
Through it all, Sarah-san enjoyed a nice screen of two six-foot-two-plus gaijin trying to clear a path for her on the crowded Tokyo streets.
The sights and sounds themselves were something to behold. But even better? Having an old friend leading the way, reminding me of crazy things I said earlier in my life and forgotten (believe me, I returned the favor).
We ended the reunion at TY Harbor Brewing Company a few nights later, with Davíd treating us to some Japanese craft brew and tasty vittles. I look forward to welcoming him back to the States sometime to reconnect him to the rest of the old high school crew and to introduce him to some new friends (Beware, Stacy … your reputation precedes you).