After an extremely busy first half of the year, I am finally flying away for my very first break today. And 9 Jun is really just like any other ordinary day, other than the fact that it marked the beginning of my short vacation to Hokkaido. This trip too, would have just been another ordinary vacation, if not for the sudden passing of a good friend from college.
You see, this particular friend and I went on two graduation trips together. The first was to Tokyo when we graduated from NUS in 2001 and the second was to Hokkaido when we completed our teacher training programme in 2002. Since then, I have not been back to Hokkaido, for various reasons. As I was packing the evening before, trying to recall when was the last time I visited Hokkaido, I remembered my friend, and could not help but lament the fragility of life. Hokkaido possibly is still Hokkaido, but my friend is no longer here with us.
Looking ahead, I realised that this trip like my previous visit, would include stops at Hakodate, Otaru and Sapporo, places where we experienced our first snow, had our first onsen experience and for the first time found our way around town by bus (instead of train). Even before I land in New Chitose Airport, this already feels like a walk down the memory lane.Yet this really is a vacation planned way before her passing, and really isn’t meant to be a trip to reminisce the past.
Coming to an ‘old’ place with new friends and with new purpose, of a road trip, I do foresee myself relaxing and having fun, and bringing home many fond memories as well as shopping. Yet, as much as I am enjoying myself, I feel sad each time I think of my friend. Memories of the past would suddenly come to the fore as I remember the good times we shared, the hilarity and pettiness in our younger selves, and grief at her sudden passing, at the loss felt by her family and close friends…
Afternote: I would not be blogging about my Hokkaido vacation, for various reasons. Instead, I would be creating albums on Exposure to share some photos and experiences in brief. I’ll share the links when they are ready. 🙂