I was 20 years old and sitting on the tile counter in the kitchen of my parent’s home. It was 76 and mostly sunny that day, which I remember because it’s 76 and mostly sunny every day in Cardiff. Seriously, my stepmother replaced two outdoor thermometers before she realized they weren’t broken, the temperature just never changed.
So I was sitting there eating a bowl of cold soba and saying something dismissive about whatever boy I was dating and my Grandma Yoshi turned to me and said, with a look of such sincere concern on her face, “I worry about you, you have too much over-self-confidence.” I didn’t always understand what she said, because her Japanese accent never thinned no matter how long she lived stateside, but I understood that.
“I’m pretty sure I have exactly the right amount of self-confidence,” I said, which is exactly what someone with too-much-over-self-confidence would say.
Let me tell you about the first memory I have of Grandma Yoshi. When I was just shy of 7 years old, my parents put me on a plane with my two goofy older brothers and sent me around the world to live with Yoshi and Joe for a month. In Japan. Because my parents were insane.
One day, Yoshi took me around town to get stared at and pick up some Captain Crunch (so I would eat something), and go chant with one of her friends. I couldn’t understand much of what went on around me, but I remember there was a look of concern on her friend’s face and a lot of animated pointing out the window as they rattled off quick Japanese. Yoshi finally conceded whatever point was being argued and helped me into my cowboy boots for the walk home.
She walked in the middle of the street. I kept sort of leading her over to the sidewalk and she kept drifting back into the middle of the street, as though sidewalks were some new fad she wasn’t sure about. True, there were no cars on the road and it was a small town but still, the final word on streets in my training was that they were for crossing after looking both ways and usually while holding an adult’s hand. Sidewalks were for walking. Hence the name. Yoshi did not agree.
Also of concern, though apparently only to me, was that the sky in the distance was turning a pretty unusual shade of green and the clouds seemed to be channeling Chernabog (that demon from the Night on Bald Mountain bit in Fantasia – yeah, I had to look it up too). As we walked down the vacant street, the rapidly increasing wind felt electrically charged. Somewhere in the distance a small dog was being transported to Oz. Yoshi, meanwhile, was deep in the telling of a story I cannot remember one word of.
We reached home a short while later to an absolutely frantic Grandpa Joe and the boys locking down the storm shutters. Because a typhoon was coming. And no one knew where we were. And basically the storm could have killed us.
All night, the boys and I peered through a gap in the storm shutters, though we weren’t supposed to be anywhere near the windows. Grandpa Joe’s tomato plants were ripped clean out of the garden and hurled into space by the howling wind. The storm toppled trees and turned the garden into a decorative pond for a few days.
So when Yoshi took my hand and suggested that I had “too much over-self-confidence,” I may have been the tiniest bit incredulous. You want to talk confidence, lady? Let’s chat about it while we stroll through a Hurricane.