Impressing the impressive
I lost touch with Izumi after high school, and then she emailed me seven years later when Miki invited both of us to her wedding. We talked on the phone about the wedding gift. I worked in an office in the new complex, which attracted attention for its glamorous appeal, including high-end shops and restaurants, museums, and a movie theatre. I was excited and was eager to tell her how much I had accomplished since high school. It turned out she also lived in Tokyo and worked as a computer programmer. It was a career I had not expected from her, but it was early 2000, and IT-related professionals were in high demand. When I told her where I worked, she said, “Oooh, fancy” in a cynical tone, and I was slightly embarrassed to have boasted about it.
Izumi came to the wedding reception a little late. I was nervous to see her as I still wanted to impress her. She came dressed in a long black dress, and her now-black hair was reaching her lower back. I didn’t know the word “goth” at the time, but that might have been her chosen style. She had gained quite a bit of weight compared to the frail figure I had last remembered, and the color was back on her cheeks. We sat next to each other and conversed easily but politely.
When popular social media reached Japan, I looked for Izumi. She had become an Okami (a mistress who oversees the daily operation of a ryokan). She had an updo hair and wore a pastel color kimono, and her face looked elegant with minimum make-up. It was after the 2011 earthquake, and she posted about offering the onsen of her ryokan to those affected. I didn’t try to connect with her because I still felt the sense of rejection from junior high school. Also, I thought I couldn’t impress her as I was not in a good place in my life.
I looked for her again in 2019. She had moved to a city that had grave damage from the earthquake and was an Okami in a ryokan there. Her public photos showed her involvement with the local community. I could imagine her leading events successfully. She wrote in her profile, “I love eating good food, reading books, and ‘writing.'” She quoted writing, and I wondered what she wrote. I remembered her successful screenplay for the junior high school theatre club. I couldn’t help but envy her because whatever she wrote, she’d do better than I ever would.