Wednesday, February 12, 2014

65 The Bay Area Calling

Around those days, I became so homesick for the Bay Area for no reason. 

Oakland was the first city I came to live in the USA to learn illustration at an art college in the late '80s. It was the biggest change and challenge in my life especially because I never left my family in Tokyo until then.

I only spent a year there since I transferred to a bigger school in L.A., but the first year I spent in the Bay Area left a strong impression on me, so I ended up visiting there once a year at least, and I enjoyed the travel by driving each time.

It only seemed yesterday the first day I arrived with my suitcase to SFO, to Rockridge station by BART, to the school apartment with mixed feelings of hope and fear. There I found that I had to buy my own beddings, and one of my roommates took me to shopping and showed me what I had to buy. (I had no idea how each bedding item was called, the size system, etc.) Everything was new to me and there were full of surprises everyday.

It all came back fresh to me how the school cafeteria smelled like and what I first ordered there, my favorite cafes to do homework with friends at night, the night view of the Bay Bridge from our apartment...

I would usually think of L.A. to visit, but that time nostalgia to the Bay Area was prevailing. Soon I reconnected with my old school mates from the era on Facebook, and I was hoping to find company for my nostalgic trip which I was aiming in winter break.

Soon enough, I knew why I was attracted to the Bay Area. I found this shocking news on FB that my dear old friend from that time had been dead since early June.

He was a senior at the art school and was like a big brother to me, a local but born in Japan therefore bi-lingual and bi-cultural, just perfect for me to learn a lot from. He seemed to be friends with everybody on campus, and was friendly to anyone he came across, even to a street person asking for a drag. Most of all, he was the first-ever spiritual person whom I encountered, and inspired me all along the line. 

For me he always played a pivotal role in my life, to introduce me to new career opportunities or important people, which and who always took me to the next level.

He was such a free soul, and nobody knew where he'd gone to or what he'd been up to until a good friend of his found his death by Social Security Death Index 3 months later, although at that point nobody knew where he was last or how he died, etc. 

This news saddened so many people, as he'd touched so many lives. I was just one of them but fortunate enough to be invited by his family to his memorial service at San Francisco Bay.

This was how my dream came true in November. And naturally, I reunited with long-lost local friend who was also a mutual friend of his, and I got to take the memorial tour together with her in Oakland and Berkeley.

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