Friday, March 27, 2015

Nadia My Friend (1) Our Memories

My best and oldest friend Nadia, holding a four-leaf clover in her hand

On Tuesday March 24th 2015, my best friend Nadia passed away.
She was 35 years old as her birthday was in January.

I was on Facebook on Wednesday morning. There I found some of her friends were posting on her page some messages in Spanish, but I could read that those are like RIP, or I will always remember you, it is so sudden, etc. Some posted pictures of her. I just hoped it was a prank or something.

I reached out one of her friends Vereniz and asked what was going on. She wrote back and told me unfortunately our dear friend passed away.

"Apparently she had pain by her appendix that she let pass by. When she went to the doctor, they told her colitis and sent her home. Her pain continued and Tuesday she went back to doctor... they figured it was her appendix that bursted 1 or 2 weeks before... they operated her yesterday. She was in recovery but hours later she did not make it."

It was like a bad joke. I was absent-minded, could not swallow the situation, However, as time went buy the news struck me as a real thing.

In 2005 at SDSU cample we visited as alumni.
Nadia picked up Daily Aztec

Nadia and I met in 2001, when I was an exchange student at San Diego State University (SDSU).

Nadia is from Tijuana, Mexico, the border city South of San Diego. She was a student at UABC in Tijuana, and also attended SDSU as an exchange student.

Nadia was a border-born bilingual. She was nice and gentle to me who then did not speak good English. She even suggested to take the same class the following semester. First I thought it did not take it seriously, but we actually took Intercultural Communication class in Spring.

The second half of my stay in San Diego was extremely fun. She introduced me to her other Mexican friends and classmates. We used to meet up and chat between the classes, or went to somewhere for fun.

On weekends, she and other friend Luis and Alejandro would often take me to Tijuana. They showed me different areas of the city, and Nadia let me stay in her home multiple times. Thus I get to know her parents, her big sister Afra and younger brother Carlos, and we see each other again and again.

Not only Tijuana, but my Mexican girl friend showed me and taught me a lot about San Diego also. I remember we went to La Jolla together before my return to Japan. The beach was beautiful and I did not want to go back home. I thought I must come back to this land someday.

In 2002, I was back in Japan, and yet dreaming of San Diego. Even when I got a job at South Korea's Tourism Bureau, I kept coming back to San Diego for my annual one-week vacation.

I was chanting that I want to go back to San Diego. Nadia always listened to me. One time I thought it might be difficult to find a job in San Diego, but could be possible in Tijuana. Nadia seek opportunity for me.

Now I know, it was nothing but Nadia's friendship that I was able to keep dreaming to come back and work in San Diego. And my unrealistic big dream came true.

In 2006, at the bull fighting place in Playas de Tijuana

The view from Nadia's home, which is on the steep slope.
Tadahito Iguchi and Nadia, probably in 2008.
She took this photo and sent it to me knowing I am a big fan of him.

Although Nadia was a middle child, she was like a big sister among our friends in spite of her age. She was unique, definitely different from others, had lots of guy friends, yet had girl friends too. She also had tremendous amount of knowledge and memory. She used to tell me some unbelievable stories from her past that I was blown out and yet doubting, but then always later it turned out to be true.

She used to talk about her friends, which everybody who knows her would agree. She used to say like "I have a friend called xxx, she is like xxx and we did xxx together..." etc.

In contrast with her, I have a bad memory and easily forget things from the past. 

At the funeral, her friends talked to me and said "Oh you are May. I heard a lot about you from Nadia."

Nadia and me in 2009, when I moved back to the US.
In front of San Ysidro border.

In 2009, I made up my mind and quit my beloved job. I moved back to San Diego. I studied Business Management at UCSD hoping to work in tourism marketing industry in San Diego.


But I first pretended that I just temporary visited San Diego.

I met up with Nadia and Alejandro Downtown San Diego. In front of Horton plaza, I said "I have a big news!" "Are you pregnant??" "No! I am coming back to San Diego!!" It was Nadia who instantly said "Congratulations!!".

And my friends said "Let's celebrate!". We crossed the border to Mexico, had some tacos for snack, and went to the apartment that Nadia used to live alone that time.

Taqueria we used to stop by for munches

Buzzed Nadia and me. We talked until dawn.

Around this time Nadia started to keep Aini the cat

Reunion with Luis the banker. At TGI Fridays in TJ.
Nadia's B-day Party with her high school (?) friends.
A few months later, Carmen the lady next to me passed away.
One of very few girly shots of us
The following day hanging at the mattress store where Fabian used to work
When she introduced me to Sylvia and Chino. At Taco El Gordo.

This is how Nadia put me in her friends' loop in the most natural way. It was a big fortunate thatI had friends who can support one another in this difficult moment .

Thus I spent a few weeks in San Diego and Tijuana after leaving my previous job. In February, Yuko, my friend from Japan, and I visited Mexico City and Cuba. In March, I started the program at UCSD.

There was a time when I suffered from homesick. It was about three months after the program started. It was my first experience. It would have been because the environment was totally different from the previous one at SDSU, and I was much older than the last time I stayed in a different environment.

It was Nadia and Alejandro who helped and supported me then. Although I lived in UTC area then, they came to visit me and cooked carne asada together. We talked on walkie-talked when we are not seeing each other.

Three of us visited San Felipe. With gigantic cucto.

We used to go places, sometimes over night whenever we all got time.

Dec. 2009 at quinceanera party of Hermes' daughter

Classmate Reunion
May, Fernando, Nadia and Hermes
Nadia, May and Alejandro
Jan. 2010, B-day Celebration for Nadia y Alex

March 2010, TJ and Ensenada with my mom and sister
At the Tijuana Beach, in front of the border

Nadia and Alejandro treated my family just like me when they visited San Diego and Mexico. It is needless to say that both my mother and sister are deeply saddened and shocked about the news.

Fundraiser Dinner in TJ April 2010

During this time Nadia was interested in helping people. She and I went to the fundraiser dinner.

Puerto Penasco Trip April 2010

Right after the charity dinner, we went back to the US side of the border, got on my old small red car and headed to Calexico/ Mexicali. We were supposed to trip to Puerto Penasco with Alejandro the following day. It is a funny memory that we had a short sleep in the car parked on the street and the border patrol officer suspected and woke us up. 

It was a hard schedule but we had a good time.

They accompanied me full two days when I celebrated my big 3-0 birthday.

Big 3-0 B-day lunch

We hang out even after the party

April 2012 in New Orleans

Nadia and I were seeing less each other after the second half of 2010 when I graduated and went back to the corporate world. But we still saw each other once in a while and exchanged emails.

In April 2012, I invited Nadia to the trip to New Orleans, Louisiana. Originally I was planning to go with my boyfriend (current husband) and I remembered Nadia once told me she wanted to visit the city. She came along with us.

Holding baby crocodile. Nadia is behind me.

Right after the trip I was thinking I wish I spoke a little more with her. I was not sure if she enjoyed the trip. However, Nadia's friend Barbara kindly told me that she enjoyed the trip very much and would often tell her about the trip. This healed me a lot. According to Barbara, Nadia liked Cafe DuMont so much and she wanted to go back to that place.

It was July last year when I saw her last, when forty friends of us went to see baseball game together. Nadia's sister Afra was there, and her brother Carlos joined after his work at a sport radio station. My husband and I brought them back to the border. I said "I am soooo glad to see three of you at the same time!"

And January this year. We were planning to meet up for her birthday. Unfortunately I was very sick that moment. I explained her the reason and we postponed the gathering. I missed the chance to see her again.

Continue to Nadia My Friend (2)

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