The last of Miss Sasaki
I called Miss Sasaki on Saturday and asked her if we could talk. She asked if I wanted to come to her neighborhood for a drink. She lived near Waseda, an alma matter for both of us.
The bar had a grey stone wall and a counter of a similar texture and color. The decoration was minimal, and so were the bartender’s words. It was the first time I met Miss Sasaki outside work, but we had enough knowledge about each other’s personal life. Her father was an executive of a multinational corporation, and the family lived in Germany for several years due to his job. She was a child then but even now still understood the language. She was also a master of Shaolin Kungfu, which she still practiced. She was only about 40 years old and was the only female director in the company, and had bought a condo in cash. I looked at her in awe and thought she should go to Europe, not me.
I drank too quickly out of frustration and started whining about the shitstorm I was involved in. I told her I really wanted this opportunity but was also afraid if things would work out once I moved. I hoped and expected Miss Sasaki would say something encouraging as Mr. Saito did. I watched her sip her whiskey. Her eyes were rolling up at the ceiling, which meant she was in the middle of conjuring the most appropriate words. I can’t recall the exact words she told me, but her tone contained irritation. She juxtaposed the negatives of relocation, such as my lack of language skills and being Asian in a predominantly white country. My impetuous tendency, intensified by alcohol, fired up my response. “But I think this is the only chance!” which Miss Sasaki shot down, “your drive alone doesn’t resolve everything!” I was deflated and sad she didn’t give me a blessing. After a moment of silence, she said, “you should REALLY think about it,” and swigged the rest of the drink.
I didn’t speak to Miss Sasaki much until my last day at the HQ. When I flew back briefly several months later and had lunch together, she told me she was leaving the company. She was very excited about the new job, and although I would miss working with her, I was happy she was happy. Several months passed, and I was informed Miss Sasaki was working in California with Mr. Hirao. Though I was confused about why she didn’t tell me, I messaged her that I was so glad to work with her again. She said she was a little embarrassed about returning, and that was the last we talked. Mr. Hirao later wrote to me that her move wasn’t just about work, as their relationship went beyond that. I didn’t want to speculate, as Mr. Hirao was married, so I decided to leave the matter at that.