LETTERS TO OPHELIA
These letters are for you Phi, and anyone who loves you…
Sunday, July 4th 2010
G’day Phi. Guess where I am? I’m sitting in an internet café at Narita Airport, but I would much rather be watching you play at the kids’ play area here within the airport. I’m on my way to Australia for 3 weeks. It’s been 3 years since you and I flew the big bird to Oz… it’s just not the same without you. The airport has always been a happy place for us… there’s the excitement of seeing family and friends, the planes taking off, the kids’ playroom… Still, it will be good to see my brothers, my parents and your cousins.
- It’s OK to let some people walk away
Tuesday, July 20th 2010
Salutations from Melbourne, Australia! It was 3 degrees last night, but where you are right now, some 9500km away, you’re no doubt sweltering in Tokyo’s heat. Three years ago we were roaming the streets of Melbourne looking for a good park to play in. Despite your absence I’m managing to have a good time. I miss you a great deal. It would be great to wake you every morning, make some warm oats with Pa and then sit down and watch your favorite ABC Kids. It’s hard sometimes because naturally family & friends enquire as to how you are. Nandee & Pa miss you the most, and surprisingly Allie & Luca often ask why you didn’t accompany me to Melbourne… despite the fact that they were only young when you were here last, the bond of family is still strong. I’ve been calling you pretty much daily but your mother is yet to pick up the phone… c’est la vie!
Nandee has been sick with depression & chronic fatigue syndrome, but yesterday she was well enough to join us for lunch at a café up in the Dandenongs. It was great to get her out, and as Pat was here from NZ, and Pat & Pete joined us, a great lunch was had by all. Actually Pa was VERY unwell when I first arrived; he’d had a virus and then he was diagnosed with chicken pox, but he’s on the mend now and eating regularly.
I miss you Bella!
- Have you ever stolen anything? I have… I stole a chocolate bar from a milk bar in Ringwood East when I was in year 7. It was the worst bar of chocolate I’ve ever tasted. It was stolen. I was wrong. I’ll never do it again. Dad, if Justin borrows something forever, does that make him a crook? (Bill Cosby)
Wednesday, July 21st
Konichi wa! I’m sitting in a bar in the city sipping a café latte waiting for Ellen & Jenny to arrive (2 high school friends). Before coming here I went to the office of Births, Deaths & Marriages to change my surname back to Morice. When I married your Mum, Yuta (jiji) was hopeful of Hirakawa not dying out, and as I thought it was only fair, I obliged and hyphenated my surname to Hirakawa-Morice. Your Mum did the same when we got to Numazu… not sure why it took me so long to revert back to Morice, in any case it’s done now.
Last weekend was a special weekend as we had a Numazu reunion of sorts. Pat flew in from NZ, Allan, Brenda and the kids (David, Nicola & Tim) flew down from Sydney, Travis & I had flown in from Tokyo, and Colleen & Bruce, Deb & Rishi were already in Melbourne. The last time we all got together you were here and we had pizza on Russel Street, even Nandee & Pa joined us that particular time. This time round my favorite gal in the whole universe wasn’t present… Ellen has just arrived… excuse me darling!
- Do you ask enough questions, or do you settle for what you know?
Saturday, July 24th
G’day Princess. I’m in another café, this time near Rich & Rach’s in Camberwell. I’m missing you terribly at the moment. Last night I stayed over at Allie & Christopher’s, so this morning I played with your cousins. It was great fun but I am forever thinking of you. At the moment I guess I’m missing you so much that I’m becoming a little depressed, so I’m spoiling myself and having a caramel & chocolate tart with my café latte. Monday I will have been in Melbourne for 3 weeks… I call you daily but your mother is yet to pick up the phone… I’m not sure why… it’s hard on everyone because your family here are constantly wondering how you are, whether your school holidays have started, if you’re enjoying swimming lessons, and whether you’re excited about going to Disneyland with Dad in August…
I’m going to have to sign off now Bella… I’m getting a bit teary, so I think I’ll go for a walk… Go with care! Dad… XoXo…
- I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have 3 meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centred men have torn down, other centred men can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the alters of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive goodwill will proclaim the rule of the land. And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid. I still believe that we shall overcome (Martin Luther King)
Friday, August 6th
G’day Bella! Well, we’ve just had an exciting 2 nights together… I picked you up in Ikebukuro and we went to a café for lunch. At lunch we looked at maps of Disneyland & Disney Sea, then we jumped on the train bound for Disney! We took the connecting Mickey bus to the Sheraton Grande Hotel and checked into the Treasures Room… there were 4 beds to jump on!!!! We grabbed our swimmers and off we skipped to the pool… unfortunately they mysteriously closed the outdoor pool at 4pm, so we switched to the indoor pool. You impressed me with some newfound confidence by the pool, putting your head under and generally having a go… GO GIRL! At about 6pm you were famished so we raced back to the room to book a place at the poolside buffet. Again you impressed me with your appetite eating a serve of okonomiyaki, yakisoba, 2 mini hamburgers, some salad and an ice cream & fruit… much healthier selection than your nieces & nephews! After dinner we explored the hotel and read from Enid Blyton’s The Enchanted Wood before using the beds as trampolines! You again said to your Dad those 3 MAGIC words… and I very nearly melted!
In the morning we woke excited, actually you woke around 5am and told me you were ready for Disney Sea, but somehow managed to get back to sleep until 7.30am. Dad had a quick shower and we went downstairs for an extravagant breakfast buffet. You didn’t eat nearly as much as the night before, and by 10.30am you were already wanting popcorn… but I held off until 11am.
I was super impressed with Disney Sea, and proud by your keenness to attempt just about any ride. We even had a go at the Indy Jones ride, although I do think you had your eyes closed for most of it. But we rode the fish coaster twice and you screamed with delight. We also took a sub in 20,000 leagues under the sea, got wet in Storm Rider and watched Sinbad’s journey. Lucky you was chosen to ask that cool Aussie turtle from the movie Nimo a question during an amazing interactive presentation; you asked him how he learned to swim so well, and he replied with wisdom… with practise! We also rode the spinning boats and watched a great performance about the change in nature around a volcano and jungle. We took the old railway and sat back in a gondola. We tried unsuccessfully to crack the code and follow the map at the fortress, and we watched a grand performance on the harbor with all your favorite characters dancing and singing… Dad even sat on a horse on the merry go round, and after all that and more it was 8pm and time to take the bus back to Yokohama. We were both pretty tired on the way back but you hung on, and by the time we arrived home and Dad had made you some somen and a cold drink you were ready to open your presents from your family in Australia. With a BIG smile you opened them and without any fuss accepted bed and some more Enid Blyton for a promise to play with your toys in the morning.
You slept until 8am, then we had breakfast and Skyped Nandee & Pa. They were both so happy to see you, I was happy to see their improving health, and happier still that you were keen to chat away about Disney Sea. We played and played, but the time just slipped away and we had to get back to Ikebukuro by 1pm… I love you!
- There’s a lot to appreciate in this moment, for a start, your Dad loves you more than ever!
Well, what a weekend! We actually had 2 nights together which made it very, very special! I picked you up at 5.30pm at Ikebukuro Station. We jumped on the train for Motomachi and dined at La Boheme. You ate quite a bit of carbonara and pizza, and ordered an enormous chocolate milkshake, which was actually a thick shake, because it had so much ice cream in it. The young waiter who made your milkshake was pretty keen on you, so I’m sure he scooped in extra ice cream, and you rewarded him with your big smile and an introduction to View, your cuddly puppy.
After dinner we rode the bicycle down to the Red Brick Building (Aka Regakan) to play in the sand that was imported all the way from Australia! It was beautiful, white fine sand, absolutely perfect for making sandcastles… we made a dolphin, fish, sea horses, octopus and turtles, and then we jumped in the fountain and splashed each other and generally entertained the onlookers with our world famous wizzy-dizzes! By the time we got home, it was nearly 9.30pm, so after a short play, we were in bed reading the Magic Tree House series, The Night of the Ninja.
Saturday morning we jumped on the bicycle and cycled over to the Saty store to buy some fresh bread. Then on the way home we stopped off at the Spider Park for a bit of a monkey around. During breaky we Skyped Pat in Cambodia and had a chat. Then after breakfast you watched an old favourite, Spirit… before we made an awesome zoo with the duplo lego.
At 1pm we jumped on the bus for Negishi and met Ray, Maureen and Jennifer for a day at Enoshima beach. This morning I was telling Uncle Richie and one of my colleagues that the weekend was one of those times when children (you) confirm that there is absolutely nothing better than being a Dad! You were amazing! I was so very proud of you! You were polite, you were friendly, you were funny, and you showed a great deal of newfound confidence in the waves at the beach. The adults loved you so, and I couldn’t help but smile all weekend.
For 3 whole hours you jumped and giggled with every wave. Occasionally as you became braver and braver, you ventured deeper and deeper until you fell under… I was expecting you to show a few tears and quit, but instead, you simply wiped your face with the towel, coughed up a bit of sea water and raced straight back in. You are a little ripper! Several times you climbed on my back and we went Daddy deep and jumped the big waves together!
At 6.30pm we packed up and dined in an Indian restaurant. Again you were patient and charming, keeping up with most of our conversation and eating your fill, never once complaining. We took the upside down mono-rail back to Ofuna, then a train to Negishi where a bus was waiting for us. You were gorgeous with your goodbyes, banging on the window to kiss and wave everyone goodbye.
Sunday morning we had a quick breaky and then went to Motomachi Pool for a swim. It was a hot sunny day, so by 10am the pool was already quite crowded. We giggled and swam short distances, and again you seemed a lot more confident. Back home we played a little more with the lego, had some somen for lunch, packed up and headed back to meet Mum at Ikebukuro at 2pm… Oh, what a grand weekend! You’re the best!
- Breathe in the future, breathe out the past
Saturday, September 12th 2010
G’day Phi. Today I was at school at 6.30am, not that unusual, except that today is a Saturday. I’ve been coaching the grade 6 to year 12 x-country team. Today was our first race. I was almost as excited as the kids. Many a time I thought of you because I couldn’t help but think if you had have been there, you would have fitted in just fine. The kids at this school are just so beautiful in a caring and friendly manner. In my class alone I have at least 5 kids just like you, with just one parent Japanese. Anyway, the high school girls would have just loved to fuss over you today. We could have cheered the runners on together. They ran so hard… I was so proud of them!
Our school and most of the other international schools in Tokyo and Yokohama go to the Tama American base. It’s a whole new world, with security checks and schools from other US bases also competing. The base was enormous, which makes me wonder why the Japanese people put up with the US military monopolizing prime real estate.
I guess the main reason I am keen for you to attend an international school is so that you become comfortable with your own identity. Next weekend, one of our graduates Marcie Lise, is sharing an exhibition about individuals who share two passports. She has called it THE HAFU JAPANESE PROJECT. She writes: “The Hafu/Half Japanese exhibition helps to highlight the variety within one specific group, and also reminds us how people of mixed heritage are organizing themselves along their own lines, and mobilizing to seek wider recognition in the mainstream.” Her website is www.hafujapanese.org
Another reason I am strongly in favour of you attending an international school over a Japanese school, is their flexibility when it comes to clubs and sport. Instead of being a member of just one sports club and treating things so seriously, it’s seasonal, which means you could run x-country, then play in the girls’ soccer team, then join the volleyball team, and finally do athletics. At the same time you could also be a member of the student council, French or Spanish clubs, art, band, choir, chess, computers, year book, dance, drama, and many other clubs. It’s an amazing array of choices that gives students the freedom to try so many options.
What do you think? Sounds pretty good… luv Dad… XoXo…
- What do you know of Gandhi, Steve Biko, Martin Luther King, Aung San Suu Kyi? If it’s not much, it’s time you read about them. Divisions invite collisions, separation breeds hate and violence in thought & action (Gandhi)
Monday, September 13th 2010
How are you? I wonder how old you are as you’re reading this… I wonder what you’re thinking… I wonder how you feel about us… I wonder if you feel you can talk to me, if you feel comfortable with me, if you feel betrayed by me… I’m constantly thinking of you, and you at age 7, must have so many thoughts and questions spinning around in your mind. I hope you’re okay Bella.
This weekend just gone, Mum cancelled on us. I’m not sure why, she said you had a cold, but I think she wasn’t being too true. I was planning on taking you to the beach again. Ray & Maureen went again yesterday and said the water was much cleaner, and quite a bit cooler. Mum has also scheduled our day visit for next Thursday, September 23rd which is a public holiday, but as she’s well aware, International Schools such as Saint Maur don’t celebrate public holidays, so it’s a work day for me. I tried to request a different date, but my requests fell on deaf ears, so I guess now, we’ll have to wait until October to see each other again.
I miss you very much at the moment. I had a good cry with your black kindergarten shoes cradled in my hands again tonight. I wish I could read you a story… take care… Dad… XoXo…
- Life CAN be simple again