Feb 2, 1990 - Akiko's 8th Birthday! Unfortunately the photo was damaged, so I touched it up as
best as I could once I scanned it. I have so many memories at that dining room table!
From L to R: Kelli, Tomoko, Yoriko, Akiko, Me
Continuing on with my bridesmaids in the order that I met them, Akiko is next. My family moved in across the street from Akiko's house when I was six years old. We met at the bus stop on the first day of 2nd Grade, and from my recollection we didn't actually like each other initially.
That certainly didn't last long! We became fast friends - best friends - and spent nine years riding the bus and then walking to and from middle and high school together. Sleepovers, torturing our younger sisters (who also became close friends), learning the ins and outs of how to eat with chopsticks, and cooking up one wild scheme after the other... We were inseparable for nine years until her dad's job caused their whole family to move back to Japan.
I will never forget how lonely I was when Akiko left. As I moved into my Junior year of high school without her - getting my drivers license, going to dances and Proms - all the things we'd always talked about doing together, I was doing alone. It broke my little heart - and still makes me sad when I think about it today.
But... she came back! College brought Akiko back to California, and for one awesome Christmas, she was back on Ingrum Way with my family and I.
Akiko and I during that special Christmas when she stayed with us - New Years Eve 2000/2001.
Over the years, the gaps between our visits have gotten larger - mostly due to geography. When Akiko was in California, I was in Michigan. When I was back in California, she moved to New York for work.
Still though, every time I see her the years disappear, and we are the same old friends. The time and life experiences just enhance our friendship, not detract from it. Akiko is so genuine. She is accepting and loving, honest, and sooooo intelligent. Oh man! She was always super intelligent - match that with a kind and generous heart, well it's no wonder she has gone into a career where she can help students!
The biggest memory that comes to my mind right now is from 6th Grade. For her birthday, Akiko FINALLY got to have her very own bedroom - no more sharing with her two sisters! And to celebrate, I got to spend the night. Of course, that meant that Kelli got to spend the night with Yoriko and Tomoko as well. So there I was, sleeping on the floor while Akiko slept her first night in her own room. I woke up in the middle of the night with my head rolling side to side - it was the night of the Northridge Earthquake. It woke Akiko up, too. AND Kelli, Yoriko and Tomoko, all of whom ended up in Akiko's new bedroom - where she did NOT spend her first night in her own room without her sisters.
One more story - I was always so envious that Akiko could play piano. That's one skill that has escaped me no matter how many times I have tried to learn. I can read music, but I just can't PLAY. Akiko could, though. So, in one of my crazy, harebrained schemes I decided that I could cheat and learn to play a song - I just had Akiko color code the stickers that I put on the keys of my family piano. YEP. Stickers on the keys - sacrilege - but I talked her into it. I still have no idea how.
I love you, my friend. Thank you for being willing to cross the continent to be a part of this special, special day. I am SOOOOO looking forward to giving you a huge hug!
Halloween, 1994 - We both didn't have a costume so we went as crazy tourists!