I decided to rent a place near campus with 3 other people, 2 of them being Japanese majors and friends of mine. It sounded like a really good idea, until one of them, an upperclassman 2 classes away from graduation, did a complete 180 from how I knew him. Upon moving in, he got some credit cards and spent thousands of dollars buying new appliances and furniture. He worked 20 hours a week or so at Starbucks and made more than enough to cover his share of the rent, but would buy video games or get a haircut and not have enough, almost every month. His low wage Starbucks job became his main focus in life and he started to study coffee in his spare time so he could have a black apron (which would not give him a pay raise). He neglected to study for or even go to the 2 classes he was taking, and failed them both--three times. Whenever he cooked or ate, the resulting mess would sit there for days, even weeks, and we had roaches and even a mouse. When I complained, the other Japanese major would side with me, but our other roommate started to become threatening and hostile. After the year lease was up, we all went our separate ways--leaving him to wallow in the mess he chose to make by not listening to any of us, with thousands of dollars in unpaid bills, wasted tuition he owed, rent he owed, cleaning costs, with his black apron and no college degree and little chance of getting one with such a big blemish on his transcript.
As for my plans for graduation, they were going smoothly. I found out that my year in Japan had counted for 2 years of language classes instead of 1, so I only had to take some advanced classes in my major in addition to a few more Arts and Sciences courses. I also took some classes that I was interested in such as Okinawan sanshin, koto, Tahitian Dance, and Korean, up to Intermediate level. Each semester I kept a steady course load of about 16 credits, or 5-6 classes, and enjoyed the last of my university career to the fullest.
I started working at Yokozuna again, and took up a better-paying, skill-building second job tutoring children at a juku near the University. I also completed a 100 hour internship at the Sheraton Waikiki in conjunction with a keigo lecture at the University. As it was my senior year, I took a job doing campus tours in the mornings before class, showing prospective students around. I also did tours for Japanese students going around popular tourist spots in Waikiki and Honolulu on some days. This job was fun because I could go to the zoo, aquarium, arcade, etc. I climbed Diamond Head 3 times! I enjoyed all of my different jobs, but it was very tiring and busy working an average 30 hours per week in addition to 30-40 hours of class and study time per week. Eating and sleeping became things I did if I had time. I was so busy! I had one day off that I can remember, it was October 16th, 2006. A magnitude 4 earthquake happened on Oahu and knocked out power for most of the island until nighttime.
But, I enjoyed everything, and somehow I would still find time to do some really interesting things, like go to see Morning Musume's Hawaii concert from outside the Waikiki shell, and get my letter read by Fujimoto Miki on her radio show , I went to a fancy banquet for the Japanese-American Society and met the governor of Hawaii, was a guest MC for a Japanese speech contest, and met Murakami Haruki when he came to my Japanese literature class as well.
And of course, when winter and summer holiday came, I bought a plane ticket to Japan. Seeing Yasushi was great, but I got worried when I saw how he had been living. He had changed jobs and his new boss was cruel. It extended to me as well, on the day when I was going back to Hawaii after winter holiday, they had promised him he would get off work early that day to take me to the airport, but as I was waiting for him in the train station he called and said they just told him he couldn't go to see me. After I left, Yasushi's health started to deteriorate as well. He was having stomach pains and passing blood. He kept working until one day he could hardly stand from the pain, and asked to go to the doctor, but his boss refused to let him go, and that night Yasushi packed his bags and went far away from that place. When he finally saw a doctor, he was told that if he had continued to work in this condition he might have needed to have his stomach removed. So, by summertime Yasushi was living in a small room working at an izakaya, and I stayed over the summer and did some teaching for fun and experience.
When I went back to Hawaii in Fall of 2007, I rented a small room outside of Chinatown and resumed my schedule as usual. One day I was getting ready for work and suddenly my left abdomen started to hurt very severely. I asked my boss what I should do, and she advised me to go to a hospital. I took a taxi and went to the emergency room, after many tests including a CT scan, they found an 11cm cyst on my left ovary that had somehow gone undetected until now. I enrolled in Hawaii state insurance and had a minor surgery to remove it on a Friday and was back at school on Monday.
Then, finally in December I graduated University of Hawaii with a BA in Japanese. My parents and Yasushi came to attend the ceremony, and Yasushi stayed through Christmas and New Year's, this time in a small house we were renting temporarily in Manoa Valley. In January we went to Pennsylvania to prepare for our wedding.
We had our honeymoon before the wedding, staying in my parent's vacation condo in the Caribbean, and on our 3rd anniversary we got married. I had designed my own wedding dress, buying it cheap, getting a corset, and modifying it. My mother had planned the wedding, and of course had to make it the event of her year, inviting all of her friends and acquaintances, some people she hardly knew and I never met, just to "fill tables". The best man and matron of honor were her friends, the ring bearers were a student of hers and her hairdresser's daughter, etc. I was satisfied because I had what was important: My husband, family, and friends from high school, and after the ceremony and performances by her friends, I could dance with my friends to the music I picked.
After the wedding we got our marriage license, and went to New York to visit the Japanese embassy before going back to Japan. It was March, and in Japan the cherry blossoms were just preparing to bloom...