Small World, Part V: Laura

Back in early college, I was a bit of a Japanphile, absorbing all sorts of manga, anime, and history books about the Land of the Rising Sun. One of my more serious pursuits was learning Japanese during a four-semester course load. As is necessary with any foreign language study, I had native speakers with whom I would practice — also an excuse to hang around cute Japanese chicks! Towards the beginning of the 1994 spring semester, I bumped into my friend Suko and asked about her winter vacation (she had returned to Japan to stay with her family). And I am treated to one of the more-remarkable stories I’ve heard.

Suko’s father was a tour guide and met all sorts of foreigners while working — including a woman from America right around the time Suko was returning home. This woman/s name was Laura, and he came to find out that she was from Southlake, my hometown, a city near the University of North Texas where both Suko and I went. Suko’s father invited Laura to dinner, knowing that his daughter would love to meet someone from the same area of Texas.

So the three of them have dinner, and afterwards Suko shows Laura pictures of her campus and friends. Laura is very interested in seeing these, as her older brother went to North Texas. While flipping through these photos, one produces a strong reaction from Laura — she jumps up and exclaims, “Holy shit! That’s Matthew!” It was a photograph of Suko and I having lunch at Bruce Hall. Suko, with perfect Japanese deadpan, replies, “Ahh…you know him?” Boy, does she!

Laura and I went to high school together; I was one grade ahead of her, and the last time I had seen her was years beforehand during my senior year.

Much like Laura was blown away by seeing my photo halfway across the world in a chance encounter with a stranger, I was blown away to be reminded of her after so long. I always thought highly of Laura and would have liked to have gotten to know her better or even date her — we soon began a correspondence and later met after her return to America. To have been a part of such a complicated chain of both circumstance and time is what made me first start believing in things like fate.