The last cultural festival
The cultural festival that autumn had a different vibe from the past years because Izumi was leading the event organization. The organizers asked the students to throw ideas on the slogan and logo for the event. I submitted for both, and my slogan won to become the official one. It said, “Now’s the time to shine!” My logo won a sympathy vote from the school nurse, who said it was the worst and thought no one would vote for it.
To start the event, we had a parade around the school. The theme was “countries of the world,” and we dressed in the traditional attires of a country of choice. This ended up being a complete cultural appropriation in today’s standard, and our research on traditional foreign costumes went only so far in the time without the internet. I had a dress that looked like one of the indigenous Central Americans. I carried maracas that my sister owned for unknown reasons. I also put on a headdress that added decoration, though culturally inaccurate. Izumi owned a Chinese dress, which by itself completed a look. Others did their best imitating exotic appearances using cardboard and fake beard and clothes their parents purchased by impulse during their vacations. The parade was for no one but our fun.
The Chorus group sang two songs. Compared to the past years in the theatre club, practice and preparation required little time and energy. I was able to enjoy the event as an audience.
Izumi’s play was by far the best in three years. It was A Doll’s House by Ibsen. The screenplay was funny and witty, the stage design elaborate, and all the actors’ unique characters were brought about. Both the audience and the creators of the show looked truly engaged and were having great fun. I was glad I didn’t join the theatre club if that meant Izumi could shine as such.
The tension between Izumi and myself had dissipated by summer in the third year, but I knew I could never feel as chummy with her in the same way as we did in the elementary school. The hurtful words she threw at me and the way other girls laughed had wounded me deeply. I believed the relationship only improved because of the distance we kept from each other. I was fine, as we only had several months left in junior high school. Once in high school, I’d have a new life, a new set of friends, and new goals. The thought gave me emotional relief.
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