It was the next morning, and Namie woke up grumpily to the smell of bacon and eggs wafting through her apartment. However, there was a noticeable absence of coffee, the aroma of another item that would normally accompany her breakfast. “Fuck.” She cursed to herself. Emiri must have been in her apartment this whole time. Walking into the living room, she almost hissed at the sight before her. Emiri, her husband, and two children were there. Her son and daughter, both still infants, were playing on her living room rug while her husband, Kenta, was on the sofa. Emiri was cooking breakfast, working furiously in the kitchen. “Morning, sleepy-head. Or should I say afternoon? You slept in a lot!” Emiri smiled. “Liar. It’s fucking 7am.” Namie growled. “Hey, language. Especially in front of the kids.” Her younger sister glared at her. “Says the group of robbers who broke into my house, used my ingredients, and are just planning to inhabit my living room without my consent?” She rolled her eyes. “Look, we don’t have a whole lot of time to salvage you. Plus, Kenta, the kids, and I, we all need to go to church soon. It’s almost 8.” She frowned. Namie could not tell if it was the skull-splitting hangover or the ringing in her head or just the fact that her little sister, the embodiment of her idiot parents, was trying to lecture her on how to live her life, but the accountant really wanted 8am to roll around so that she could eject them from her apartment. “Alright, breakfast is ready, Makoto, Yuzu!” The two children, no older than the ages of one and two respectively, eagerly waddled over to the table while Kenta helped hoist them into his lap. “You’re more than welcome to join us, Namie.” Emiri offered. “Well, it’s my ingredients. But I think I’ll pass.” “As you can see, my family and I, we are the picture perfect lifestyle. You should really reconsider how you are living your life. Being married and raising a family and a home, it is the most fulfilling job I could ever have had.” She smirked. “Oh wait, kids, eat up. We have to go to church soon. And we have to fly back to Utah in the night!” Namie was in disbelief. Her parents flew out Emiri and her family just for a day to try and make a point to her.
“Oh my gosh! Jerry proposed to me!” An 18 year old Namie looked up to see her roommate at the time, Jenny, showing off her ring. Like Namie, Jenny was 18 and college freshman at Birmingham Young University. “I’m so jealous. I still need to find myself a man first.” Their other roommate, Debra, frowned. “You’ll find a man eventually. You’re so good at cleaning up after yourself. It almost feels like we don’t even have a third roommate half the times because of how little of a mess you make.” Jenny pointed out. “Well, I’m sorry that I create a noticeable mess?” Namie frowned. “Oh, no, don’t worry, Namie. You might not be a good housekeeper, but I’m sure you have other qualities about you that make you a good homemaker. Besides, you are really pretty. I’m sure you’ll find a man in no time.” Jenny reassured her, although Namie was not in need of her reassurance. “Thanks, I guess?” She did not even mention anything about dating or finding a man. Yet, Jenny forced their conversation to feature that topic. Seeing Jenny, a young 18 year old, barely legal, getting married, it started to dawn on Namie how odd it was to marry at such an early age. Jenny was still naive and did not know a lot of basic things, such as how to use a calculator, pay her own taxes, or how to use Microsoft Powerpoint. Yet, this whole time, Namie was so used to young people being married, and with children. Her own mother, she was pregnant with her by the age of 20. The same with her grandmother. At the time, it sounded perfectly fine. But seeing somebody like Jenny, who was a complete airhead, passing that huge cornerstone in life, it was unsettling. It was at that point that Namie started to see the concept of dating and marriage differently. She decided that she was in no rush to get a boyfriend or get married. She wanted to focus on herself.
“Yeah, your mother was not in the best relationship with my parents.” Uncle Juntaro sighed. “Wait, because she converted to Mormonism?” Namie looked at him. This was back when she first met her uncle, and he was telling her about his relationship with her mother. “Exactly. Our family, the Ishigos, we were a heavily Buddhist bunch. Some of my uncles, aunts, and cousins are even monks in temples. So when your mother, my sister, Yuko, denounced her Buddhist ways, it really upset my mother. And when she announced that she was going to become a Mormon while she was studying abroad in America, that was when our family cut ties off from her. They view Mormons as really backwards people, and we were confused why she fell in love with a Mormon man and would so quickly convert, despite knowing how we all felt about it.” He explained. “We kept in touch at first and when you were born, I would used to get all of these photos in the mail of you. Our parents did not know about it. For me, she was my older sister. Yeah, she did something bad, but she was my sibling, and I still saw her as my family. But then the photos and letters stopped, mostly because I had moved from Hokkaido to Taipei, and eventually, I moved again to D.C., so she probably just did not know where to send the photos and letters to anymore.” He sighed. “I think she must have moved too, because when I tried to send letters to her address, I could not find her.” He frowned. “But we both have our own families and we are both happy. It was such a shame that she kept your entire Japanese side of your family a secret from you, but I’m glad that you found out eventually.” He grinned.
Finally overcoming her hangover, Namie was getting brunch with Wei, who was shocked to hear that her other cousin was in town. “Well, you know how I feel about Mormons. Granted, mom and dad would always tell me about what kinds of 18th century values people in that religion have, but even without him imposing his opinion on me, I still believe that myself.” She shook her head. “How old is your sister again?” “She turned 22 this year.” “Holy fuck. And she has two children and is married?” “Yeah, that’s her.” Namie sighed. “Oh shit, she said she was going to grab lunch with me soon.” She frowned, looking at her texts. “Make her come here. I want to meet this girl.” Funnily enough, Emiri had no idea who Wei was, despite them being related. A lot of it had to do with the fact that Wei’s side of the family was obviously not in contact with Emiri, but the performer did not care. It took about half an hour more, but eventually, Emiri, Kenta, Makoto, and Yuzu all made their way over to Blue Duck Tavern, where the two young women were. “Good afternoon. I am Kenta, Namie’s brother-in-law. This is my wife, Emiri, who is also Namie’s sister, and our two lovely children, Yuzu and Makoto.” Wei tried her best not to recoil at the sight of them. Kenta himself was around the same age as Wei and Namie. “Nice to meet you. My name is Wei Ishigo, and I am Namie’s friend.” She intentionally omitted the part about being related to the sister, as she did not want to draw any additional attention from the young family. “Nice to meet you. Can we join you guys at the table for lunch?” “Well, isn’t that why you’re here?” Namie frowned as the four took their seats. Needless to say, it was an awkward, but in Wei’s eyes, hilarious meal.