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Yoneko Shiraishi

The snow is falling, and while the enchanted snowflakes make their way to the ground, their beauty distracts me from my concerns for a merely moment.

I desperately need to get to my second job. I can’t help but think that my rather nice morning job -where I interpret for customers, assist them with their payments, bookings, and advise them the best way to enjoy their vacations in these cold and remote mountains- is a marvelous opportunity for a recent graduate. And although the payment is rather disappointing I’m still happy for having the opportunity to work legally in the States. But being short at the end of the month is not something that particularly makes me happy. So, as always in life, we can’t blame the circumstances, we must take action. So, I took a second job bussing tables at a local restaurant. Yes, cleaning tables, taking the trash out, vacuum the place. In other words, I make the place shiny ready for our customers, who if served well, would leave a tip not only for the waiter but for the lovely Latino girl, who smiles at them while filling their glasses with fresh cold water.

But I’ve missed the bus. Couldn’t the mean driver just wait a couple of seconds more? What should I do now? I better start walking, or I’ll freeze to death.

Making my way down the road covered in snow, I know that walking to the restaurant is the only plausible alternative. And it’ll take me about two hours to get there, without taking into consideration the possibility that I might be run over, because, these are the mountains, and the main road is the highway. So, I decide not to take the latest possibility into account, because, you know? I want to keep things positive.

After few minutes walking down the mountain, I notice cars coming, and then I decide (against all good judgment) to hitchhike. To my surprise, a car stop. I run towards it and once I reach it, I nervously open the door. To my surprise, I am welcomed by the sweetest smiles, I’ve seen in a long time. Ito-san and his lovely wife, Nozomi-san.

They dropped me at the restaurant and we begin a unique and everlasting friendship.

Today, I’m meeting Ito-san and Nozomi after eight years. The last time we meet was 2008 but since then life has changed so much for us. I got married, moved cities while they’ve had grandchildren and moved countries. And although, we’ve kept in touch all this time, I am a little concern about how to connect with my old friends.

I spot them. I walk towards them and without saying much I hug Nozomi-san, and Ito-san. In this warm embrace, I feel my concerns melting away, and I am just left with joy and happiness.

We made our way to the sushi restaurant they so thoughtfully selected for our dinner party. While enjoying freshly made sushi and beers, we start catching up. They show me pictures of their beautiful grandchildren, and I tell them all about my projects. And, although, I know in my heart I’ve taken the right decision about my career, there’s a part of me that needed reassurance.

Encouraged by the alcohol, I shared my concerns, and it’s here when Ito-san looked me directly in the eye and said:

“In life, you’re going to find predicaments. Sometimes, you might feel there is a wall. It might feel like it is the end of your life. But is it really the end of your life? Or rather the end of the life you were living? I assure you it’s not the end of your life. And the situation you are living is neither the end of your life nor life threatening. Therefore, there’s nothing to fear. You’ll be okay.”

I was so touched listening to his words that I only managed to nod in agreement. Maybe Ito-san knew that I needed to hear those words. Maybe, in my hopes, he saw himself when he started doing business as a young man in the not-yet-fully recovered Japan. Whatever the reason, I feel grateful, because an advice like this, can be the ultimate difference between quitting or keep trying.

When we finish dining, we made our way back to the station. I hugged Ito-san and Nozomi-san one last time before letting them go. And thank them again for always listening to me, and as always take me in the right direction.

Yoneko Shiraishi is a writer, who loves sharing posts about life, and love. She also works as a consultant

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