2002 | Kochi, Japan | Age: 23
I’m from a small town of Kochi, but I studied to be a hairstylist in Osaka. I came to New York at 23 and started working at a hair salon. That’s how I came to be living here. I had a baby, who is already 10. I had him in NY; he grew up in Brooklyn. We were in Seattle once, where I got married to his father. It didn’t work out well. So I took my son to Japan and worked there while my parents helped. His father finished school and brought us back here, but it still didn’t work out. We are separated now, going through divorce. My son is going back and forth between my place and his father’s. Sometimes it’s not fair, but we’re trying to make it work.
My parents practice Buddhism. They are very passionate. I grew up in that environment. My mom gave me prayer beads when I left home. Not these... an older set. It was a keepsake. My husband went crazy one day, right after I gave birth to our child. He was on meth. I had to run away from him with our baby in my arms, and his mother called the police on him. When I went back home the next day, I saw that he had destroyed my beads. I told my mom what had happened to her keepsake, and this is the set she sent to replace it. My sisters all have matching sets, and I’m sad that mine is the only one that's different. But I have to move on.
My parents knew that he was kind of crazy. He visited us when we moved to Japan. They knew that he hurt me emotionally. He used to hurt me physically too. But they still accepted him. I guess that’s how Buddhism is. Growing up, they were always so busy going to meetings. My 3 sisters and I were often left at home looking after each other. It didn’t feel right; they helped other people, but they weren’t there to help us emotionally. As an adult, I sometimes feel that I don’t know how to process my emotions, my feelings. I think that’s one of the reasons none of my sisters practice Buddhism. It doesn’t mean our parents didn’t love us. This is one way my mom showed me how much she loves me - by sending me another set to replace the broken one. They have a different shape of love. I think that’s one of the reasons I love living in this country - I can say “I love you!”