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When research and romance meet!
Dedicated to Makoto
Submitted by Annie
Last September, I went to Japan to research the Japanese traditional tattoo for my master's degree. For the first four months, I was in Osaka to study the language, the last three, I was in Tokyo to do some fieldwork. By January, I was to begin meeting with tattoo artists. The first month was pure hell, as nobody was answering my requests to meet with them. Desperate, but still determined to succeed, I sent out another pile of letters. About two weeks later, I got my first reply from Makoto, a tattoo artist from Yokohama, requesting more details about my research and inquiring about my skills in Japanese. I nervously sent an email explaining what my research was about and said that although my Japanese was far from perfect, I didn't think communication would be a problem. He wrote back to tell me he was in the process of moving into a new studio and that if I could wait a few weeks, he would be able to meet with me.
We met for the first time on February 14th! We talked about his work, his clients and my research for eight wonderful hours. The day after our meeting, I wrote to thank him for all his help. That same night, after coming home from an evening out with a girlfriend, I notice I had received an email from Makoto. It was late, I was tired and the email seemed so long, so I asked my friend to translate it for me. She began reading the email that contained the usual polite formulas but stopped halfway with a total look of surprise on her face. She proceeded to inform me that Makoto was asking me out on a date!!! I didn't think it would be very professional to date my research subject!!! But I felt we had really connected and my heart was speaking much louder that my head and so, I agreed to see him again.
By then, I was a month away from going back home to Canada, but the time we spent together was pure bliss. We saw each other as much as we could in the little time that remained and found we had so much in common. He told me about his life, his fears and his dreams. He told about a trip to Hawaii he had once taken and how magical the place was to him.
I have been back home for a month now and we write each other everyday. His messages are always filled with love, tenderness and words of encouragement, but being half a world away from him, sometimes makes it hard to read them. We probably won't be able to meet again until I finish my thesis next year, but I pray everyday for the two of us to have a chance to be with one another again soon, even if only for a short time. How wonderful it would be if we could meet again in his beloved Hawaii!