In telling the story of how Mr. G and I met, I first need to start with how I came to Japan. I, like my older sister and brother before me, went to a high school in Ft. Lauderdale that had an international studies program. The international studies program offered many languages you don’t usually find at your average high school. A few months before my freshman year of high school started, my mother and I went to see a guidance counselor to choose my classes for the term. When it got time to choose the language I wanted to study I spoke up and said I wanted to take French. I was a 14-year-old girl and had beautiful images of Paris, croissants, and me looking up at the Eiffel tower while my scarf blew in the wind—ooh la la!
My guidance counselor flat out said no. My mom and I were both surprised. My mom knew the guidance counselor pretty well from enrolling my brother and sister and knew he was Italian so she said, “Oh, you want her to take Italian, is that it?” He said no. “Latin?” I suggested. “Nope,” he said. “You’re going to take Japanese.” He looked over at my mom who shrugged as if it didn’t matter what language I took, and he went ahead and filled in the Scantron card. I was quite speechless. I wanted to take French, not Japanese. Why was he making me take Japanese?! I didn’t know anything about Japan except for Nintendo and Sailor Moon—which were both pretty cool. After a few moments of thought I decided that learning Japanese wouldn’t be all that bad and didn’t fight the decision.
Me participating in a Japanese Club activity
Much later on, I asked that guidance counselor why he had forcibly put me in the Japanese class. He told me that I was his last appointment of the day and that the Japanese class was going to be cut if one more student didn’t enroll. He was desperate to keep the class open and knew my mother well enough to know that she wouldn’t mind me being put in the class.
I took Japanese and found out I was pretty good at it. I took it for all four years of high school and decided to major in it when I went to university. My junior year I did a study abroad program for a year and had an awesome time in Japan. After I finished my senior year of college I moved back to Japan as an English teacher. I taught English for a year and started working odd jobs after that like bartending, hostessing, and waitressing.
Super waitress Ms. Gondola!
It was at a waitressing job where I met Mr. G. He was best friends with the bartender of the restaurant and stopped by to say hello. Mr. Gondola is Japanese-American, but I assumed he was just Japanese. I came up to him and tried to take his order in Japanese. He responded in English and my first thought was, “Wow! This Japanese guy’s English is amazing!” My brain later processed that he was actually American—I can be pretty slow sometimes. We quickly became friends—as many expats know, it is very easy to become friends with a fellow countryman when you are both living in a foreign country. In a few months we were dating and six years later here we are now, engaged and very happy.
Looking back, our entire relationship would not be in existence if it wasn’t for that guidance counselor. If I wasn’t his last appointment of the day I would probably be in France somewhere eating croissants with my fiancé Jean-Pierre. One man completely changed the course of my life, and I am very grateful to him as I now am blissfully happy with Mr. Gondola.
Is there anyone who was key in making your relationship happen?
*All photos used are personal