Sunday, October 4, 2009

Day Twenty-eight - Evening

It's closing in on 10:00 p.m. It's pouring rain outside - perfect for sleeping - so I don't know how long I'll write tonight. Especially after spending all weekend stuffing closets and junk drawers and cleaning up dust bunnies.

There is a dreaded drawer with a file folder in it full of correspondence from 2003 and 2004. You see, my computer that housed all the emails and correspondence from that time crashed, however, I printed off a lot of the emails and stored them in a file folder. I haven't opened that folder in five years. That dreaded folder is the next step. I'll attempt to open it this week. But, before I do I feel I must response to several emails, comments, etc., I received this weekend. I have attempted to reply on the actual comments, but I'm not sure anybody goes to the comments, only me, so I don't think anyone who is posting on the comments is getting my reply, so I decided to reply directly in my blog to the comments. You will find that I will start my blog with responses first and then continue into the story.

First response is to a ASIJ graduate whose parent had an association with the school. Listed below with some personal editing to protect the identity of this person is the email I received.

"I happened to land on your blog a few weeks ago because I subscribe to Google Alerts with the keyword "ASIJ". I have always been heavily involved with ASIJ.

To be honest, my first reaction to seeing your blog was... "What if new families that goto to ASIJ see this blog...Won't it hurt ASIJ's name? Won't it give ASIJ a bad rep?" but as I read through, now I am glad you are writing this blog because you are bringing light to an issue which, for me, has been a mystery for a long time.
When the school originally "banned" the ASIJ Centennial Book, I was confused to why they did...I remember one summer all the books from the Centennial were taken to the trash...

and now, you are shedding light to the "other side". Its been this untalked about secret at ASIJ...when people ask about it, I feel that the school kind of avoids the topic...I guess its bad publicity, I know... I mean.. having a pedophile teacher? What if the Japanese Media got a hold of this story...

Anyways, I just wanted to share my appreciation for you sharing your story."

My initial reaction to the beginning of this email without reading all the way through was to raise my eyebrows and the hair on the back of my neck. Sort of the way a dog does when he detects danger. But, as I read on, I realized that this person was processing a little of his/her own feelings about the truth coming out. Do you see how permeating this mind set is in our society? The idea is to protect the guilty, and vilify the innocent. We all struggle with it, even if we aren't the person who was abused. In a sense, we all are prey.

Other responses to comments/emails:

One writer corrected the reunion status and reminded me that it was not the 75 anniversary in San Francisco but the Centennial celebration at the Miyako Hotel in Japantown. Oh, I remember something funny that happened while we were at the reunion. My sister and I (and our husbands) stayed at the Holiday Inn a few blocks around the corner from the Miyako Hotel. I want to say it was because we waited too long to make reservations at the Miyako so they were all booked. Plus, my brother-in-law had points with the Holiday Inn so it was convenient for us to stay there. One night, my sister and I wanted to stay late talking to friends and our husbands wanted to go back to the hotel. So, they left and we stayed. Later, my sister and I caught a cab to the Holiday Inn because it was really late and we didn't think it was safe to walk. Our cab driver just happened to be a Japanese guy and as we started to give him directions, he was shocked. We had a great conversation with him and enjoyed telling him he was the gaijin.

Another memory I have about the reunion is that one night late - it may have been the same night as the previous story - the phone in our room rang. It was my buddies from high-school who were also staying in the same hotel. They wanted me to come down and party with them. Had my husband not been with me I probably would have gone.....It's probably a good thing my husband was with me.

Another person asked about whether or not I had begun the process of forgiveness. Hopefully, as you are reading you can pick up on the fact that I have gone through a great deal of forgiveness. I don't think you can talk about stuff like this without going through forgiveness. I write about my life as it was, not as it is now. My mom died in 2004 - I will write about that later - but my dad is still living and we now have a really great relationship. We can talk frankly with each other, we debate political issues, we disagree on a lot of things, but I know my dad loves me and he has also gone through his own personal journey and has been able to get to a point of forgiving himself and allowing God's grace and mercy to cover everything else.

I also know that I'm not the greatest parent of them all. In fact, I have a great deal of flaws. I have made stupid mistakes with my kids. We've had our share of struggles, but as my favorite teacher, Steve Brown, says, "I will never write a book on how to parent, because I don't know how. But I do know that if my kids KNOW that I love them, then that is really what matters." I'm banking on that.

Another writer responded to the post about Japanese men and their inappropriate behavior especially on the train during rush hour. She shared her humiliation as the Japanese would grope her in a crowded train. I remember one time grabbing the hand of a man who was groping me on the train and lifting it up and saying, "Dare no te deska." Translated - "Whose hand is this?" In Japan, this public revelation was quite humiliating.

Another person responded to the "Maybe So or Maybe Not" post. You know things aren't always as they appear. Reality sometimes comes from the opposite direction. It makes me think of the story of Joseph. Ask me and I'll tell you about it.

One response talks about bad memories of moving back to the states. It was difficult sharing our heritage. We were/are fully American and fully Japanese. What a weird combination. Life on furlough and even after high school was difficult.

Another wrote that he/she has a slightly different story of the shrine. I'd love to hear it. My recollection is that the story had more detail.

Another person asked about forgiveness. This also reminds me of the sermon this morning. Our associate pastor preached on the use of the tongue. That resonated with me because even though I'm not speaking these words, it is still the my responsibility to be careful how I write and who I write about. I would love to hear your thoughts about that.

But back to forgiveness. I have and had forgiven Jack for what he did to me. I have also forgiven my parents for not protecting me. I'm not sure I have fully forgiven the administrators of the school, parents and teachers who knew but didn't do anything, and others who want me to keep this suppressed. They are probably the most difficult to forgive. It's all about progress, protecting the reputation of the school or even yourself for being a coward for not telling. This is hard stuff.

Ok. I think I have responded to all the comments and emails. Please continue to write. I will have to soon open the dreaded drawer...................

No comments:

Post a Comment