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Los Angeles~ A Distant Memory and Resonance Part III
On New Years' Day in 1992, I returned to my home in Tokyo. Looking back now, this was the beginning of an extremely busy period in my life. I had met my husband-to-be in Madison and we married in October 1993 and we moved to Yokohama. I managed to keep in touch with friends I met during my years in Madison, but I never got back in touch with Mrs. G after visiting her and her husband at their home.
My mother still kept in touch with Mr. and Mrs. D, but eventually lost touch with neighbors Mr. and Mrs. J and Mrs. Y, whom she met at daycare. Mr. and Mrs. D continued to live in Quebec City.
Quebec City, October 1993
In October 1993, I got married. My husband and I decided we would visit Madison for the first part of our honeymoon to see our friends again. After much contemplation as to where we would visit after that, we decided on Montreal and Quebec City. These cities were within a manageable distance from Madison and the entire honeymoon trip could be completed in ten days. We had not been to Canada during our years in Madison so that was another reason for our decision.
A short flight from Detroit took us to Montreal, Quebec. I could already see how different Montreal was from cities in the U.S. of a similar size, such as Chicago. The signs were in both English and French and it had a distinct ambiance, a mixture of Anglo and French culture. Though we had no problems communicating in English while we were in Montreal, once we were in Quebec City, this was not the case. Only the receptionist at Le Chateau Frontenac seemed to want to speak English willingly. At the museums we visited, the explanations accompanying the exhibitions were all in French and there was a booklet of English translation at the entrance of each room for those who didn't understand French.
I thought of Mr. and Mrs. D. I originally had no plans of contacting them so I didn't ask my mother for their phone number. I decided to call directory assistance to see if I could reach them. This took a bit of courage, since I didn't speak French.
"Alo?" responded the woman who answered my call . I gave her Mr. and Mrs. D's name and told her that they resided in St. Paul-Abottsford.
"And where is St. Paul-Abottsford, ma'am?" the woman asked, a little perplexed, in her distinct French accent. I was lost for words since I actually didn't know. I told her I wasn't sure, then hung up.
That Christmas, my mother was in touch with Mr. and Mrs. D again. Mrs. D responded in her card, "Oh, Quebec City is only 45 minutes away from where we live"! She sounded happy that I had attempted to contact her, but even if we did get in touch, getting together would have been difficult, since we only had four days in Quebec City and without a car, travelling to their residence would have been difficult.
After the birth of my children in 1996 and 1999, life became extremely busy. I rarely thought of contacting Mrs. G with whom I lost touch ever since I visited her and her husband in Pacific Palisades. To this day, I regret to say that I am not in touch with her. I do hear about Mr. and Mrs. D through my mother. Several years ago, Mr. D suffered a stroke. After presumably being hospitalized for an extended period, he was well enough to be cared for at home. Mrs. D always remembered to send Christmas cards to my parents, but one year, they didn't get one. This had never happened in the past. The following year, they did get a card but in it, Mrs. D wrote that her husband had developed alzheimer's and since he could no longer be cared for at home, he moved to a long term care facility. Mrs. D remarked that she was lonely since she was now alone at home. My mother remarked, "I'm sure Mrs. D would be lonely, she and Mr. D were such a good couple".
After Mr. D moved to a long term care facility, my mother has only heard from them a handful of times and when she does, the messages in their cards were very brief. No significant news was apparently reported in their cards.
Quebec City, Summer 2009
In the summer of 2006, my family and I moved to Waterloo, Ontario, Canada from Yokohama, Japan due to my husband's job. We never thought we would visit Quebec City again but in the summer of 2009, we decided to stop over in Quebec City on our way to Prince Edward Island. I noticed that most people we came across were able to speak English, be it the receptionist at the Holiday Inn or the waiters/waitresses at the restaurants. This was a significant change from our last visit in 1993 when we had difficulty trying to get around speaking only in English. We spent only two nights in Quebec City. Contacting Mr. and Mrs. D this time around hardly crossed my mind, not that we would have had the time to get together.
Los Angeles, Again
In Christmas 2009, we took a trip to San Diego and L.A. After four nights in San Diego, which included a trip to La Jolla, San Diego Zoo and Tijuana, we drove to L.A. and stayed at the Westin Hotel in downtown L.A. This was essentially my first time to visit all the tourist attractions: Universal Studios, Kodak Theater, Walk of Fame, Beverly Hills and Little Tokyo. We got together with my brother-in-law's family at a Japanese restaurant in Little Tokyo. We also visited the Japanese American National Museum located within a walking distance from Little Tokyo. While sightseeing, I suddenly came to terms with what a big move it had been for Mr. and Mrs. D and their family to move out to L.A. from their native Quebec City. I wonder if their children were able to adapt to the local high school where only English was spoken. It must have been a big decision for them to move to L.A. and then back to Quebec City.
Now that I think of it, we could have planned a trip to our old house in Culver City and the school I attended. However, it hardly crossed my mind during the trip. I wasn't motivated nor did I see any significance in visiting. It would hardly mean anything to my husband and my children. That chapter in my life seemed like an entire generation ago and I didn't expect to relive the euphoria I felt standing outside the playground of my old school. Maybe that was it...that ever-so-brief euphoria should be left intact like a sparkling dream. I'm sure that if I did visit my old school again, I would not feel that same euphoria again. The euphoria I felt the first time would then instantly lose its sparkle.
I sometimes wonder how Mrs. G is doing. She would probably be in her 80s now. I've stopped short of contacting her since I always think, "what's the point?" I know I sound blunt, but that is how I feel. No matter how attached I felt to her, she is now part of a distant memory and our relationship just doesn't translate to my current life.
I guess we all move on at one point. We don't forget what has happened in the past and from time to time, we lend our ears to its resonance. Now that I am no longer in touch with Mrs. G and my parents don't hear from Mr. and Mrs. D every year, our connection to L.A. is gradually fading. But to me, Los Angeles is still a distant memory and resonance.