Tuesday, August 5, 2014


Misuzu with the Bart Simpson bracelet I gave her years ago

"Elsha, you have lunch already?"
"No.  Where are you?"
"Okay, see you in a minute."

When Misuzu calls, I'll drop everything and meet her.  She is one of the most extraordinary people I know.  A Hiroshima bomb survivor and an artist with a wicked sense of color and movement, she repeatedly astounds me with her uncanny ceramics, figure drawings and abstract paintings.  Her emails to me are similarly works of art and imagination.  Because she travels so much, it's a treat for me to spend time with her.  So yes, of course, I'll run over to Shirokya's at Ala Moana Center to have lunch with her. 

This time she's back from two months of hiking through Japan.

"I'm tired of having an old house that needs a new this and a new that," she says, "I don't care anymore about possessions.  I want to go to uncivilized places with just my small backpack and good shoes."

"Where did you go?"  I ask.

"I wanted to go all the way up to Hokaido, and further, to a little island, but a friend was flying in to meet me in Tokyo, so I walked around Tokyo.  Then she canceled and there was not enough time to still go to Hokaido.  Next time."

"What was the most interesting thing you experienced?"

Big smile on her face.  "I came off a ferry and I saw this old woman carrying a big basket of beans from her garden.  It was a very hot day and she sat down on the ground in the shade.  I sat down with her.  We talked for half an hour.  I enjoyed being with her so much.  She insisted I come to her house and spend the night." 

"Did you?"
"No,"  Misuzu laughs, "but back in Tokyo, I sent her a big box with many presents.  No return address.  Not even my name.  I wanted to surprise her.  I like that."

I look at my precious friend.  She has the body of a little teenager and dresses like one, black and white baseball cap worn backwards.  Gray hair the only sign of her age.

"You know, Elsha, I have maybe another ten years to live.  So I want to do everything I can in these ten years."

"And then?"

"My dream is to be walking somewhere, fall down and die.  Nobody will know who I am.  No possessions.  No identification.  Body finished."

Not bad, I think.  Not bad at all.

I raise my water cup.  "Banzai, dear Misuzu!  May they be the best ten years of your life!"

Such a small backpack, but just right for her.