I had expected all the girls in the school wanted to go to university, as it was one of the top schools in the district. But Miki was different. She told me she wanted to become a housewife. She said there was nothing more comforting than a provided living. My initial reaction was disbelief. How could such a brilliant person be content with being someone’s wife? My narrow, 17-year-old mind thought it demeaning that she aspired so low so young. In retrospect, she was far more independent-minded than I was.
Miki was not starry-eyed about her married life. I could imagine her cooking and cleaning but also giving herself time to read books and watch movies. She’d be managing the household budget while buying herself a nice bag with her savings. I could tell about her that she would give what she could to others, but would always love herself first.
On the other hand, I romanticized my future, going to a top university, and getting a dream job. I had dreaded about becoming someone’s wife because my mother gave all her energy and time and attention to others, sparing nothing for herself. I believed that was the fate of all wives. But how would I have known that I’d give all to my work until I’d be drained entirely, and fall into a depression that’d consume me for years?
In the end, she didn’t become a housewife. She went to a hairdressing school after high school and became a hairdresser. She met her husband at school and opened a hair salon together. When I saw her in our early 30s, her daughter was four years old. She was the same person as when she told me she was going to become a housewife, even with a job and family. She enjoyed seeing friends from high school, dressed well, smoked cigarettes, drank Italian wine, and watched movies. She said for a honeymoon they went to Italy, the place she longed to visit. She was hoping to visit there again. It was her wish, her joy, her happiness.