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Hidemi Woods 

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

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Hidemi's Rambling No.528

About six months after I moved into the apartment I now live in, I began to see this woman frequently at the communal spa. We just exchanged hellos for weeks and then started chatting about the weather. She is a lively woman who is around sixty years old and laughs a lot. I secretly nicknamed her ‘Aunt Hearty Laugh’ because of her signature laugh. We don’t know each other’s names, don’t talk about personal matters, but have a friendly chat every time we see each other at the communal spa several times a week. Since I regularly take a bath with this Aunt Hearty Laugh while I have never done that with my own mother as an adult, she is almost a stranger yet feels so close to me. Two years ago, her pregnant daughter stayed with her for a couple of months. She joined our chatting and I heard about her office work and the relationship between her colleagues that I had no experience of my own. During her stay, her baby was born and Aunt Hearty Laugh became a grandmother. I took a bath with her newborn granddaughter as well. Her daughter visited her with the baby every long holiday and we took a bath together. At every reunion, the baby’s change interested me. She got bigger, taller, started walking and talking, and gave me a high-five the last time I saw her. Two weeks ago, Aunt Hearty Laugh told me that she was going to move to other apartment nearby. She has her old friend living there and feels secure because she lives alone and is getting older. She said laughing, “That apartment has a spa with thermal springs. Come to take it with me!” She also added, “I’m a lot older than you are but who knows? We could be friends!” which arose a question in my mind. Do I want a friend? I’m constantly short of time for anything and can I spare any time for friendship? I like being alone and can she be an exception? I realized how perfectly balanced my friendship with her had been. I didn’t know that chatting at the spa several times a week was the best relationship for me. To overstep the threshold by visiting her is an unknown territory. I was both curious and terrified. Besides, she said that for just being nice and didn’t really mean it. If she had meant it, she would have given me her information to contact. But, what if she meant it and waits for my reaction? What if she thinks I will give her my information if I want to be in touch with her? On the other hand, suppose I gave it to her, then my gesture would say, “Invite me!” which is so rude. After two-week’s pondering, I decided to wait for her information as her invitation. The other day, I saw her at the spa and she said she was moving out the next morning. She didn’t give me any way to contact her. Neither did I. We didn’t even tell each other’s names until the end. We just said we would bump into each other soon in the neighborhood since our apartments stand closely, and shook hands all naked. She left. Surprising sadness welled up inside me…

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