“Sometimes life brings you pleasant surprises — it’s not scripted or orchestrated, but just right. Life can be charming, like that, if you let it.”
It was a family reunion — one that has never happened at this scale before.
True, I spent nearly 10 days with Rio at the Chiswick flat. During this time, I was also able to spend some quality time with Luke and meet his father, Derek who inspired me with his abstract paintings.
I was also able to go running with Luke a couple of times (take great satisfaction in his tremendous progress) as well as Chris (we ran down to Richmond together). In fact London has been a great running city and what I personally dub “the fittest city in Europe”.
It was ideal that Luke worked at Apple, since he was able to hook me up with an appointment at the Genius Bar in Westfield Shopping Center. I had an issue with iMovie, and Apple gave me a free upgrade. (Note: It’s amazing that Kim, Kae, Rio, Luke and Chris all use Macs — I’ve never seen so many exclusive Mac lovers in my life)
BTW, Westfield, the largest urban shopping center in Europe, is simply amazing. It’s like going to a theme park — there is definitely something for everyone with mega stores and a large 14 screen state-of-the-art theater. You will love it, even if shopping may not be your thing.
Since Kae was in Tuscany for drama training camp, I was able to stay in her room. It was the longest I’ve ever spent at any place away from home in quite a while (not counting the Navy).
The Apple store where Luke works at is really nice. But I heard that the largest Apple store in the world is opening up in Covent Garden. The store has a central courtyard which will host free workshops everyday — can’t wait to see it.
My trip was day-by-day. And I extended my stay, particularly, because I found out that Kim and Kae were coming back at the end of the month. That was why, going to Northern Ireland to see friends was a great option until my sister and niece returned home.
I got more than I bargained for during that trip — besides seeing Mark and Lee — friends who I met in DC three years ago, I got to do a lot of quality sightseeing, got to visit Dublin and made new friends who taught me a lot about the precious value of life and understanding.
Mark and Lee took the entire day off from work to give me a grand tour of the Antrim Coast showcasing the scenic, untouched Northern Ireland coastline — one that is one of the most beautiful in the world — even more spectacular than Hawaii.
Arthur Magee taught me a lot about sectarian conflict and how it is important to learn and understand each other.
This whole trip was more eye-opening than going to school, and definitely a lot more fun. No encyclopedia, no ebook reader, no youtube video could teach me life’s social skills better than what I learned in London, Belfast, Dublin and even Paris and Normandy.
In Paris, I fell in love with the Eifel, the Louvre, Notre Dame. In Normandy, I reflected on the greatest of sacrifices from the Greatest Generation.
We made videos together, and although the videos were mostly fun, I learned a great deal about life making them.
Even got to meet up with CAPT Phil Perdue in the most amazing coincidence ever.
Since I only had one final day in London when I returned from Belfast, our reunion was delayed for a bit as I was in Chiswick purchasing a Dahon foldable bike. But things really worked out. Thankfully, Kae, Rio and Luke saw me when they were riding by in a bus and got off to see me at the bike store. Minutes later, Lai drove by and was a life saver. Instead of having to carry the bike all the way back to my hostel in Westfield, we simply put the bike in Lai’s car. Now we were ready and yearning for dinner.
In life, nothing rarely happens the way you intended it to. It’s important to be flexible, fluid and understanding. Sometimes life brings you pleasant surprises — it’s not scripted or orchestrated, but just right.. Life can be charming, like that, if you let it.
In the long run, we will appreciate the fact that we were flexible and cherish the tender times that we were able to spend together.
The dinner was delicious and wholesome. I did not know it was even possible to make spaghetti so delicious. The meal, in fact, was just as good as Rio’s Japanese Curry she cooked for us the night I left for Northern Ireland. This is also the very first time I’ve spent time with Kim, Kae, Rio and Rintaro all at the same time, under one roof. So it’s a very special moment to be thankful and remember — one that just happened when we let life’s circumstances take the lead.
We had a wonderful time, talking, laughing, just enjoying a simple and pleasant meal with friends and loved ones. Nothing special, though it meant the entire world to me.
After dinner, we all went to Notting Hill to visit Rio as she was painting her clothing store. Notting Hill is a fabulous, affluent, fashionable community with beautiful Victorian homes and attractive storefronts. It is a very artsy place, which I love.
This has been an amazing year for Kim since this is the first time that she has seen Mom, Pearl and me all within the same calendar year, since she was a child. (Mom in Japan, Pearl in Hong Kong and me in London) This is no coincidence, this is meant to be, and it was a wonderful gift.
2010 is also the year, that I lost my dear Grandma in Japan. She lived a long and productive life and is greatly missed.
Again, it’s amazing how life works out. The whole trip to UK was not planned. I caught a Medevac flight from Andrews at the very last minute. And during the trip, everything was almost day-by-day: where I was going next, even where I would be sleeping.
So this whole trip was no coincidence and it ended in the very best of ways.
When you leave things to the Lord, there is time for tragedy, but there is also a time to rejoice.