Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

A Long Journey hr600

I have been estranged from my friends for a long time. There are only three people with whom I keep in touch by a Christmas card once a year. They are my kindergarten teacher and two high school teachers. I feel a lifelong obligation to those three for each reason. I came across one of the two high school teachers when I was a senior. She had just graduated from a university and started teaching at my school as a new teacher. She taught Japanese classics and I was one of her first students. The Japanese classics class consisted of a mere dozen students who selected the subject to prepare for the entrance examination of a university or a college. As the class was unusually small and the new teacher was young and friendly, it soon became like a big family. It was as if we had a weekly family gathering that happened to have a specific topic of Japanese classics, rather than a school class. In my dismal and miserable high school life, the class was a chink of light. It was the only place at school where I could breathe and came to life. I took the initiative in having fun. Mostly my target was the new teacher. I pulled various pranks on her at every class, such as all students hid in the cupboards and she walked in the empty classroom, perplexed. On a perfect sunny day, I suggested having the class outside and she taught us in the schoolyard like a picnic. I tried what hadn’t been done at my school before and she just cracked up every time. It seemed I was really good at making her laugh. The whole class eventually laughed all the time, and the old strict teacher who had her class next room often came in to tell us to shut up. She sometimes called my teacher out to the hallway and reprimanded her. Nevertheless, my teacher never hushed us, and continued laughing at my jokes and having fun together. She helped me with those bright hours in my dark last year of high school and I’m thankful for that forever. She quit and moved to the other school when I graduated. We have exchanged New Year cards or Christmas cards ever since. While I write simple season’s greetings on them, she somehow knows and writes what I want to hear most. For instance, toward the end of the year in which I’d had a hard time and felt discouraged, her Christmas card said ‘Hang in there! Things are turning better!’ and made me wonder how she could ever know. We somewhat have a lot in common with the way of living, too. In those years, most Japanese women got married and quit working when they did. While I work and stay single, she also continued teaching at school and didn’t change her last name to her husband’s when she got married as the Japanese tradition goes. Without seeing her in decades, I’ve felt strange bond with her. Last year, my parents moved and their new address startled me. By pure coincidence, it’s weirdly close to the teacher’s. I mentioned about it on the Christmas card to her and then things developed quickly. During my latest trip for a visit to my parents’, we had a chance to meet each other for the first time since I was a teenager. The hotel I stayed in on the trip was located in Osaka because I flew in this time instead of using a train. From Osaka to the station we would meet though, it was a two-hour train ride with several transfers. It would be a long trip but we would bridge a decades’ gap in two hours. I thought of the gap, and suddenly came to myself. Shouldn’t a reunion with one’s former teacher be an opportunity to show some achievement for gratitude? I had forgotten about it because the process to this meeting had strangely gone smoothly as if it had been happening automatically out of my will. I had tried and worked hard all those years, but achieved nothing, no money, no fame. I recalled I had said to her that I would become a musician when I last spoke to her. During the course of life, I did. But that’s it. I haven’t gotten anything to show to her. I wondered if our reunion might be an embarrassment where a teacher would see her student’s unfruitful result of many years…

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A Routine Thief hr593

I’m particular about almost anything. That’s why my daily routine is inevitably quite precise, especially for details in it. My routine includes taking a bath at the communal spa and exercising at the communal gym both located inside my apartment complex for the residents. One night, I found an unfamiliar woman in the Jacuzzi of the spa. This Jacuzzi has eight spots to sit inside and I have my particular spot I usually sit in. The spot isn’t popular, as other residents prefer different ones. But this woman was sitting right in my spot, which made me move to the other. The spa has a sauna that stops being operated early in the evening. I take it after its operating hour in the late evening as a low-temperature sauna since heat remains. No residents use it that way and I can monopolize it. One night, I found the same woman in the sauna, using it as a low-temperature sauna like I do. My days of a sauna monopoly are over. I’ve seen her more and more and it seemed she is a new resident in this apartment complex. I bring a big hook to the spa and put it on the wall of the shower booth to hang my bag of amenities from it. No other residents do something like that as they put their amenities on the booth floor directly. And one night, I noticed that new woman began to use a big hook on the wall of her booth. Now I was convinced it was no coincidence. She apparently imitates me. There are four tubs in total in the spa with different water temperatures and different tub sizes. I take every one of them. Other residents don’t take all, just taking a couple according to their liking. One night, the mimic woman began to take all tubs like I do. I exercise inside the hot tub while I’m submerged in the bath water, which no other residents do. And one night, the mimic woman even started exercising in the hot tub just as I always do. I sometimes have a chat with other residents when we share the locker room. And as she has become familiar to them, she also began to have a chat with them intimately and impudently while I still talk to them modestly. Before taking a bath, I exercise at the gym next to the spa, which is also one of my daily routines. The other night, I went in the gym as usual and, look, who was there, the mimic woman! She has started exercising at the gym and then begun to bring her husband there. They had used different machines beside me for several days, but her husband began to use the exercise bike I regularly use. Above all, she imitates my own timetable so that I see her every day, everywhere, doing exactly what I do. My spa and gym time was completely copied by her. Usually, it’s nice to find a person who has a lot in common with me. I would like that person and sometimes build a friendly relationship. In that respect, I should be pleased that I’ve got a new neighbor resident whose liking is the same as mine and with whom I have so much in common. The strange thing is, it’s not the case this time at all. This particular woman really annoys me for some reason. While I realize it sounds totally irrational, I dislike her so much. Every bit of what she’s doing irritates me and disgusts me. Her any behavior, the way of her talking, and even the tone of her voice get on my nerves. As I was curious what makes me loathe her, I studied her closely. She’s thin, pretty, and a showboat. She always has to be the center of attention. I’m jealous of her looks – that’s a given. And I’m indignant because she grabbed my routine that I took years to establish. But except for that, nothing is wrong with her. She’s just too much like me. I may be looking at myself through her. Now I see how I look to others. Does it mean I hate myself? Do others look at me as a loathsome person like her? I feel like they do. I can’t stand to look at my lousy behavior through her any more. Not to see her do my things, I had no choice but to change and reconstruct my routine schedule entirely…

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