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In 2004, if you would have told 13 year old Claude, that one day she’d be walking around Harajuku, Japan, wearing heart shaped glasses and bubblegum pink hair, she would’ve thought you were bananas…B.A.N.A.N.A.S! Yet, here I am on Love, Angel, Music, and Baby’s home turf blending in like a pro…well kinda. Though it wasn’t my first visit to the birth place of everything kawaii, it never truly looses it’s luster and shine. Sure, it’s a little more mainstream than it once was, with Vivienne Westwood and Pandora opening their doors on the main strip, but still the area has retained all of it’s original magic.
As soon as you venture off to little streets and alleyways, a kingdom of everything fashion, from DIY designer goods collaged together to hype beasts haven and vintage couture treasures await. It’s a dangerous place for people like me…but I’m not only in it for the goods. Harajuku is probably the most fascinating and mind blowing place to people watch on the North and Eastern hemisphere, or any hemisphere really! You really haven’t lived until you’ve seen a middle aged, 6 foot something man, living out all of his Sakura Card Captor dreams in full lady garb, grabbing a sandwich at high noon. I’m telling you, it’s a sight for sore eyes. Everyone is welcome to be as beautiful, adorable or weird as they’d care to be and I think that’s pretty fantastic.
The Harajuku hood also houses the highest volume of adorable animal cafes in all of Tokyo, which will surely keep you oohing and ahhing at everything from Owls to Hedgehogs. Unless, like me, you get crapped on continuously for the duration of your allocated 30 minutes. Poop or no poop, Harajuku, still promises to keep you wonderstruck, and truly lives up to any Gwen Stefani song it might have inspired in the early 2000s…and I really liked that period of her catalog so you know it’s gotta be really good.
Saint-Laurent sunnies, Strorets dress, Christian Dior bag, and Balenciaga Triple S’.
I was trying to write a regular blog post. Tell you about the tourist attractions, and incredible restaurants we visited in Tokyo…but that just isn’t what I have on my mind right now. The images might be of cute outfits in beautiful places, but this blog has always been where I could let all my neuroses and dark twisty thoughts run free, even when it would probably be more appropriate for me to write about the weather. Today will be no exception. My grandfather passed away yesterday. I’ve dealt with grief many a time during my childhood, lost more family members than most, but this one’s been different, harder if that’s even possible to say without disrespecting the ones that left before him. Though he held an incredibly special place in my heart, I think the manner in which he departed makes it harder for me to live with, without having more existential thoughts than I’d like.
You see my grandfather decided he no longer wanted to continue on. Once he learned that his ability to walk was deteriorating and he wouldn’t be able to live autonomously anymore, even if his mind was bright, the kind of life he saw in his future didn’t feel worth living. He was a humble, quiet, solitary man with immense pride and dignity. If anything I think that, those qualities were what defined him as a person and where he drew his happiness and joy. That being said, when we heard he had taken maters in his own hands, I was in incomprehensible shock, and immediately my heart ached for my mother.
Though the attempt wasn’t successful, his mind was still made up. After spending a week in the hospital, his condition having deteriorated, and only learning more bad news regarding his health, he asked for a humane death. A death which would give him the chance to say goodbye, live only as long as he felt his life was worth living, and be surrounded by his children when he finally left the world. Every part of my being that is logical agreed with his decision, but every other little bit was devastated. I kept thinking of his bucket list, where hadn’t he traveled, what hadn’t he seen, wasn’t there something he wanted to do with the time he had left to conclude his journey…but that’s not who my grandpa was. He was firm, at peace with his decision, and the last item on his bucket list was for his loved ones to understand that this was the right choice for him.
Saying goodbye was probably the most heart wrenching thing I’ve ever done. Telling a person they’ll forever live on in your heart…saying I love you for the last time, those words were probably the hardest I’ve ever said out loud. He didn’t speak much, except for when I came close “Ma Belle Alicia…”he said with pride, as if I he believed was the most beautiful being who’d ever lived. That moment will probably make my heart ache for as long as I live. I held him in my arms, kissed his head, kissed his hands, and walked away, so afraid that if I looked back for just a second I’d never be able to say good bye, I’d never be able to let him actually go. Yesterday morning, at 10:10 AM he left this world peacefully, surround by the ones he loved, and who loved him in return.
I’m happy for him. Happy he left the world the same way he lived within it, on his own terms. So why am I so uncontrollably emotional, why do I, without a moment’s warning drench myself in puddles of tears. Perhaps the actual act of saying goodbye is what keeps me crying. Maybe the shock and immediacy of passed losses overwhelmed me to the point that I never truly understood that the person was gone. Goodbye seems to be the hardest word, Elton was right. I didn’t write this piece to make anyone feel sorry for me, or sad or cry even, though I failed terribly at not doing so myself while writing it. I just don’t want to forget this feeling. The tears come, because of the love I had and continue to have for him after his passing. They come because of the bittersweet feeling that swaddles my heart when I remind myself that he is in a better place. They come because as hard as it was, I got to hold him one last time, and the emotions of that moment live on. I hope they don’t fade too quickly. I had the privilege of saying goodbye and I want those feelings to resonate until I’m finally at peace with them, and feel grateful for them as I know I will someday.
This is probably the longest piece I’ve ever written on the blog. Still debating if I should even post it at all. All of these sentences and paragraphs to say that I loved him, and I hope his spirit lives on through these words. That they honour him, the way I intended them to. Je t’aime Grand-Papa.
Gucci Sunnies, Zara suit, Lacoste X Supreme polo, Loewe bag, and Christina Louboutin pumps.