Slowly but surely my devotion to study of the Japanese language and culture has been eroded by the ever pressing demands of fatherhood and economic survival, it just sort of happens you know? I graduated with the coveted degree (only three in my class at CSULA that particular June day), just as the world economy imploded.The Japanese economy tanked 100x further than the US’s and combined with the inherent age discrimination ( no it is not illegal in Japan!). As well as other factors such as losing my home, my full time job, getting involved with an infamous pornography performer ( http://gerilewis.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/the-continuing-story-of-mary-and-i-the-brutality-and-dehumanization-in-the-pornography-industry-13/), being an alcoholic and addict, and getting kicked out of the Venice Surf and skateboard Association, ( Yes, I founded the VSA) as well as just attempting to stay alive my study was to say the least on a back burner.
Today I found myself at the downtown Los Angeles, California court house on Hill St. Los Angeles if nothing else, is multifarious. The multitude of peoples hustling, bustling and of course waiting in lines that snaked hither and yon, swarmed the court house with an ant colony intensity. Did I mention the waiting, yes the endless waiting. I am observant, just goes with the territory, man and I have covered allot of territory. My intense study and travels throughout Asia have made me an expert in distinguishing the various ethnicites. Dress, hairstyle, dialect, and tone etc I absorb and decipher, simply by nature now. I would have made a great FBI or state department agent agent if not for my propensity to drive while blind or show off my Judo skills to police officers resulting in living from the wrong side of a a 10×10 hotel room.Dig? So what road are you leading me down Ger-I, time is money you know. Ok, ok I know you paid a grip to read my rants, raves and prose so I will get to the point.
As I stood in this Anaconda of a line, I saw the four year old first, hiding as any four year old would behind her mother’s leg . she peeped in and out and we began playing peek a boo. I instantly knew the child was half Black -American and Half Japanese. Uncanny yes, but perhaps if you spent as much time in Japan as I, you would know inherently too.I also realized the woman was struggling to navigate the frustrating ,confusing,and, asinine bureaucracy. I struck up conversation in my best honorific Japanese. “Dozo Youroshiku Onegeishimasu. Watakushi, Ger-I to moshimasu.” Long story short? I helped the lady out and it was a pleasure. She bowed and said thank you. At that very moment it struck me, just how I much I enjoyed the study of Japanese language and culture, especially the interaction and helping. The unspoken softness and genuine grace of her bow warmed and humbled me. I”m alive and grateful to be so.
I used to drink and use over my heartbreak. Today in sheer delight I watched (on celluloid) my favorite Japanese hero Kyoshiro Nemuri the lone Samuri battle villains in feudal Japan eating a Chawan full of hot Soba noodles. A simple pleasure yet again I am am grateful.
To my dear friends and Sensei(s) that taught my unworthy, stubborn,and bumbling jack-ass like attempts at the many things Japanese from language to Judo to making Mochi. I want to say thank you. Your patience and efforts have not gone to waste nor unrewarded. In a world of takers and greedy, giving is a blessing that some unfortunately may never understand.