17. Focus on the here and now.

I bump into Jay at the exit of the train station prior to our second improvisation lesson. We had to cross a pretty busy road to get on the right street. I walk towards the pedestrian crossing.

Jay says ‘That’ll take ages, let’s just cross here.’

“But that’s uns——

Jay grabs my hand, pulls me onto the road and we run across the street, narrowly missing a couple of cabs and cars.

“D..don’t do that.. It is totally UNSAFE.” I shake my hand out of his.

‘Haha! Learn to live a little, Charlotte!’ He skips toward the building with the uniquely-patterned windows.

“…..”

***

After our lesson, we exit the building, saying goodbye to Theo and the other participants. It was right around dinner time and Jay insists on a ‘really good sushi place’.

Despite hearing an internal ‘maybe you shouldn’t’, I agree.

We walk towards the sushi place and find ourselves seats, the conveyor belt slowly chugging along in front of us.

Jay recommends a couple of plates which were a ‘must try’, and I had to admit, they were pretty damn good.

It was a good couple of minutes of silence between us, not counting the conveyor belt clinking as it hit a bend, the waiters shouting ‘Irrashaimase‘ and ‘Arigatou gozaimasu‘ in between pouring tea and counting plates.

“So you must bring all your lady friends here, huh?” I say to break the silence.

‘Not all of ’em, only the really special ones.’ Jay smirks.

I feel myself blush. But I didn’t feel quite right about it.

“Look Jay, I.. I don’t…”, I struggle as I hold onto the ceramic cup of ocha as if for dear life.

‘Char, don’t worry about it. My intentions are pure. We’re buddies, improv buddies.’ He fist bumps my shoulder.

He reaches for another plate of sashimi off the belt.

‘I think you’re fun, so I figure we should hang out.’ He says as he shrugs and smiles at the plate. ‘E-hee, hello beautiful’, he says to the plate of salmon sashimi.

He picks up three slices and shoves them in his mouth and continues speaking with a sashimi-filled mouth.

‘I need more good influences in my life, and I think you fit the bill. So, relaaaax, you’re like a big sis, Char, I’m an only kid so it’s like it’s meant to be..’ He puts the chopsticks down and continues chewing.

“…..Don’t talk with your mouth full. …….and don’t call me Char.”

‘See? Good influence. But really, what’s going on in your head? I know you’re keeping something wayyyy under wraps. So what’s your story? I know you have a history. I’ll share mine if you share yours~’

“What history?”

‘C’mon, was he mean to you?’

“He?”

‘Bad breakup?’

“How do you…..”

‘I could tell when I grabbed your hand. You resisted. That says alot.’

“I resisted because I didn’t want to die, Jay.”

‘Pfft, no one is that tensed up. What happened?’

I look at Jay and roll my eyes and sigh. I decide to share. 

I told Jay about Mr Collins and Wickham.

He listens very attentively the whole time and when I finish, he remains quiet, nursing his cup of green tea.

“You must think I’m a fool.”

‘No, I think you are very brave, Charlotte.’

“Oh please.”

‘No really. That wasn’t an easy experience. But I think that you’re better off now.’

“…Thank you.” I frown.

‘Look, I know it sucks. It feels like crap. I know, I’ve been there too. But y’know what, you’re still here. You lived. You’ll get over it and everything happening here and now is helping you become better.’

“Lifestyle classes teach you that?”

‘Nope, Improv did.’

“Sure.”

‘No really! Focus on the here and now. It doesn’t matter what happened before, okay they’ll help with callbacks, but, in every new scene, new game, it’s there and then! Here and now! So we make the most of it, right?’

“….Why are you so wise? What’s your secret?”

‘My turn to share! But first. Dessert!!’ 

I laugh and he pulls me along to a Harajuku crepe stand.

Jay shares his own origin story while we peel away at the wrappers of our dessert crepes. 

I laugh and empathize at the sheer ridiculousness and amount of uphill struggle he experienced.

‘But it’s all okay now. It’s here and now. We can only get better. Right?’

He turns to face me and holds up his half eaten crepe.

‘To the here and now?’

I tap my half eaten crepe against his.

“To the here and now.” 

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