Went out with an old(ish) friend for the first time in years tonight.
Before she got knocked up, we used to meet up about once a week, sometimes more. After the pregnancy, she like many women in Japan focused on raising her child. At about the same time a number of good drinking buddies of mine (all women) were transferred out of Fukuoka. It was as if all my close friends had been ripped away from me.
But then, I married and before long became a father myself.
In the meantime, the friend separated from her husband, got pregnant again, postponed the divorce and . . . six years passed like one whirl on a merry-go-round.
We had a couple of drinks at one place, then went to another place and had a few more. It was like old times, but we weren't young, single, or childless anymore.
I have written about this woman before in my book "Kampai"--buy it Goddammit--but tonight I realized there were a lot of things I still didn't know about her.
I knew she was from a broken home, but didn't know the details until tonight.
Her parents divorced when she was still in elementary school. Her mother worked as a hostess at a snack to support her and her younger brother. She bandied around schools due to her mother's frequent moving. Never in the better parts of town, of course.
Still, she managed to grow up into a descent, if somewhat brusque adult. (I think it was the coarseness of her character that attracted me to her in the first place.)
Tonight she told me that she had no contact with her father for over two decades when one day she was at a DIY center where she saw a man who looked just like her. She asked him if he was a Mr. So-and-so and he said yes.
"I'm your daughter."
Now consider that that particular day was her father's very last day of work. He was retiring.
She said the two of them shed a lot of tears and I can imagine it. I almost started crying myself when I heard the story.
The man had since married and had more children, so their chance meeting was awkward to say the least. Since that day, the two have remained in contact, but always in secret. She says she feels like a lover more than a daughter the way they have to sneak around just to meet. But, I guess, it's better than pretending to be strangers.
Sometimes Japanese over-complicate relationships, especially the ones which have turned sour.