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Good Fortune Miyuki

Good Fortune Miyuki

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Published by Suzanne de Cornelia

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Published by: Suzanne de Cornelia on Jul 19, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/18/2012

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 A burnished warmth cuddles Santa Barbara in September. It’s part of themagic of the place to be wearing a white sheath and sandals while national ads turn to discount school supplies. I’m at the wheel of the Volvo on the road that curves around the wetlands, salt marsh, and estuarian creeks of the historic Goleta Slough. Blonde hair  flutters out the Volvo’s driver-side window. In the passenger seat my sheltie, Ladd, revels in briny-sea aromas. We pull into the Santa Barbara Airport—a picture postcard Spanish adobe enveloped in blue-sky and  jasmine air. A steel staircase is rolled-up to a commuter jet on the tarmac. The convexdoor swings opens. Passengers emerge, squint in the glittery sun and  shamble into the lobby. My eyes follow a slim 5’6” girl with a smart walk and glossy black hair that falls over a white cashmere sweater. She’soutfitted in a flouncy black skirt, gold charm bracelet, black patent quilted bag and matching Chanel flats. That must be her.‘Are you Miyuki?’ I smile and ask.
 
 I already know from the Director of UCSB’s English Language Programthat I will be host mother to a Japanese student whose name means ‘Good  fortune, perfect in every way, beautiful happiness.’ She is the onlydaughter and sister of a father and brother that graduated from Harvard Medical School. In addition to certificates in Tea Ceremony and Flower  Arranging, she’s just received a degree in economics from prestigiousTokyo University—ranked highest in Asia and 20
th
in the world.We stop by home so she can freshen-up and stow her luggage in her roomwith its windows opened to the blue sea and a pocket garden of red-bougainvillea. Back in the car we weave up to El Encanto Hotel at the topof the Riviera. On its terrace--with a sparkling view of the red-tile roofed city and Pacific Ocean—we laugh over cheeseburgers and fries. I discover that our birthdays are days apart and that her father is addicted to Frank Sinatra. I don’t consider what our relationship will be over the next semester, or whether it will abruptly end with her studies, fade-way, or live on. She ishere now and we are simpatico in daily beach walks with Ladd, fireside popcorn and hot cider, laughter, music and conversation, and delicious food at home or out.They say all things point home in old October. With Halloweenapproaching we spelunked in vintage stores for her UCSB costume party.‘How about a princess with a magic wand?’ I suggested. ‘Ahhh,’ she smiled and looked off in the distance as if envisioning the dance. ‘Yes.’  Is it embedded in female DNA to be a princess? Isn’t that the universal appeal of Jackie Kennedy, Princess Grace, Audrey Hepburn or Queen Rania? Truth is Beauty, and Beauty is Truth. You can have an economicsdegree from a leading institution~but nothing trumps grace. Heaventhrives on it and Miyuki has it by a string. We found Shangri-la in the form of a shell pink gauze ball gown with a fitted satin bodice and full skirt dotted with shimmering crystals. With theaddition of angel wings, a halo, and wand—a fairytale materialized.The princess was back in street wear and we were off to the Biltmore for  salads on the oceanfront patio. A man at the next table with a Bavarianaccent introduced himself as a Count. If we’d been in Des Moines—that 
 
might have given pause. But in Santa Barbara, as in Camelot, natural lawsare suspended. He invited us to an author’s book signing the following night at hisMontecito address. We arrived to a lane doubled-parked with priceyimports and took a twisting stone walk canopied over in trees laced with purple morning glories to a brightly lit mini-Neuschwanstein. Inside were100-guests that could have walked out of a Russian spy novel.Men in black and sunglasses at 9PM, glitzy tipsy starlets, and assorted hedonists downing Glenlivet, puffing cigars, or showing off fancy shoes or rings. A man in black-tie played Gershwin on a gleaming grand piano. Theauthor was seated at a table in a dinner jacket signing books about amajor motion picture company from its old-Hollywood heyday. Contract  stars from the era like Jane Russell were there. We ate fresh canapés and tittered at stale jokes until the princess needed to return to her homework.“…The days dwindle down to a precious few, September, November -These precious days I'd spend with you.” It’s Thanksgiving Weekend and red pyracanthas are in exuberant bloom. At 7AM we stop at Tutti’s on Coast Village Road for carry out venticappuccinos. We’re on the 101 North to San Francisco where my son, Rob,is a freshman at USF. The sunroof is open. Sea air floods in, and Frank Sinatra music on the stereo floods out. Ladd’s sitting in the rear seat  sporting a goofy grin with his ears flying back.We take a detour for lunch in Carmel and by late afternoon are on the friend’s deck with daiquiris and their college-aged boy and girl that havebeen my son Rob’s amigos since the three were toddlers. Miyuki fits ineasily. We clamor aboard their boat for the 40-minute ride across the San Francisco Bay to Sam’s in Tiburon for dinner. The two boys act as wittyreporters and film crew recording our adventure. The laughs stopped onthe return. The Bay reveals her treacherous side. Steel gray, stormy,bitterly cold and empty. We all focus on waves rushing in over the transomand into the boat when a loud horn blast from a looming container shipwarns us to get out of their lane or be run over or swamped. Someone shouts that the water is calmer near Angel Island. We huddle forward asour captain powers-up and turns east. We survived what could haveresulted in one of those familiar headlines, ‘Holiday Boating Disaster’.

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