Early in September 2001, my sister and I went to Guam for a long weekend. My sister won the trip for two in a ruffle at the bar. She said she might go with one of her colleagues because she couldn’t go with Takashi due to the secrecy of their relationship. I had already been to Guam a year before with a friend, but I insisted she should choose me as a companion. Our relationship had been tense since the argument over the new rent share agreement. I tested how much I could push my sister with the power I recently gained over her. She relented relatively quickly though reluctantly. It was as though she enjoyed her new status as an innocent victim of injustice.
I asked Mr. Tada for a couple of days off. He said, “I don’t mind if you think it’s ok to neglect your responsibility and inconvenience others.” I found his cliche Japanese boss reaction rather comical than serious.
I enjoyed being in America again, even though the vicinity allocated for tourism reflected none of local life’s reality. I tried to feel the authenticity by going to a supermarket, shopping mall, and diners where locals hang. We tried snorkeling for the second time since our trip to Key West when we attended our second cousin’s wedding a couple of years before. Unlike the last time when we embraced the thrill of new experiences, my sister seemed down and dull. She spoke less and in a lower voice and smiled less. Her attitude dispirited me from enforcing excitement on us.
My sister looked more comfortable when we got home and smoked a cigarette watching TV. I went to bed early as I had to get back to work the next day. The jet lag woke me up after a few hours, and I went into the living room where my sister was still up. She had her eyes fixated on the TV screen. As she sensed my presence, she said, “something horrible is happening in America.” Without contact lenses, my vision was blurred, yet I could distinguish the shape of an airplane impaling a rectangular building. “That’s the World Trade Center. We went there, remember?” Our second cousin, who got married in Key West, lived in New York City, so we were in the city before the wedding. Our great uncle, great aunt, another second cousin, and we had our touristy photo taken on the top of the building that was now disintegrating into the menacing cloud of smoke.