WHAT I’D CHANGE.
28 years ago last Friday, shortly after 11am, my first semester at university had come to its conclusion. It was a semester involving a subject that I hated, “Texts and Interpretation,” that I was happy to just pass so I didn’t have to repeat it, yet there were two subjects I enjoyed, Japanese and Australian Society and Culture. Yes, that semester was a foot in the door, and I still felt like I was in exam mode, but I had to prepare myself for four weeks away from university.
If there’s one thing I would change, it’s some of the company I kept. As an autistic, I had begun to feel as though I didn’t belong in Australia. Why? Well, I remembered learning about how, in Japan, scholastic achievements were valued. After twelve years of nose to the grindstone study, you could have four easy years at university, before you either chose a higher degree or devotion to nose to the grindstone at a company, or became a teacher.
I met a Japanese woman at university, and as I wanted to completely acculturate, I sought her friendship, but she wasn’t the right person for me to be friends with, and I guess I tried to push something that wasn’t going to happen.
Then, it came to her party, that was all a big lie. I remember, though, the following year, a woman in my course who asked me if I’d done anything with the Japanese woman. The Japanese woman, as I was to discover through myself and through the woman, was devious and rode on other people’s backs. She said, when it came to a presentation, that she could dress up in a kimono as nobody else had seen one. That was false, and she was being lazy.
On the one level, it was two months before my maternal grandfather died and one thing I wanted to do was find were his parents were resting. My mother had told me, when I was eleven, that they were at Mt Thompson Crematorium, and when we went to see my maternal grandfather, five years earlier, we passed the intersection that led to Mt Thompson Crematorium three times a week, but I was never taken there. Some of my angst, though, was that I was in a terrible place, mentally, and a small boy from my old primary school died in an accident, on Tuesday, August 11, 1987, and I had almost wanted to change places with him, as I was in such a dark place. And he was cremated, so it had that negative experience.
I was to discover, once I researched my family tree further, that the Japanese woman’s birthday was also the 25th Anniversary of my paternal grandfather’s second brother’s passing. If I had known that, at the time, where my mother said she’d respect me if I declined the woman’s half-hearted invitation to the party (one of the issues I had was that my mother didn’t hold back on making racist statements), I would have loved, in retrospect, to be able to say, “I’m still going out, tonight, but I’m not going to her party. I have arranged it that I’m going to see my paternal grandparents for dinner to mark 25 years since Uncle Bill died.”
I remembered my father saying that we were related by blood, and that’s true, but sometimes, you need to reach into your extended family to find some of the connections you miss from your immediate family. If I’d been able to spend more time with my extended family and autistic cousins, I might have had a happier childhood.