Making Ends Meet by Sho Ikeno, Johannesberg, Africa

Money October 26, 2011 14:49

Theme: Making Ends Meet

Do you have a dream? Great. Do you have someone who shares that dream with you and is a good companion for it? Even better. Because the pursuit of dreams and the proverbial happyness is boring without company, isn’t it? Sho Ikeno narrates to us today (Oct 26) of his London dreams and the friend with whom he spent his poorer days. And what we are brilliantly reminded is that the memories dictated by cheap lunches and rich laughters are sometimes more precious. Are you lucky enough to have one such friend?

I shop an awful lot at Paul Smith.

My flatmate jokes that I ought to rename myself Paul Smith.

When my friends ask me why, I tell them it’s easier to get all your stuff in one place. Or sometimes, I tell them I love contributing to the British economy. But truth be told, I don’t even find its design appealing. With the smartest excuse of a “British classic with a modern touch,” it gets away with even the most random designs. Any brainless tailor still conveniently falls somewhere between classic and modern.

The reason why I buy at Paul Smith is that Paul Smith was our dream. For Tadashi, my friend, and I, Paul Smith stood for all the beautiful glitterings London appeared to possess. The beauty we could not afford but we dreamt of.

We were two penniless Japanese in that expensive city. A poor Japanese was a bit of rarity there, where there were full of spoiled Japanese kids supported by their wealthy parents. Whilst we struggled to make our daily demands meet, we still visited Paul Smith shops. It was to confirm that London was worth our struggle. That London was not all about cutting lunches or walking around to save Tube tickets. That there were beautiful things in this city. We needed to know that London was still the dream place that brought us there in the first place.

We pretended we were not embarrassed of our financial status. Sharing beer, having Hare Krishna lunch while all other Japanese kids had fashionable pieces of Starbucks sandwich, we pretended we did not care. That we were students and we had all rights to be poor. The truth is we were embarrassed to death.

We shared that embarrassment only between ourselves. We were the only mates surrounded by the rank of the posh. We laughed at each other making fun how broke we were, which somehow saved us from going down further.

There were, however, things we did not share. Things we were too ashamed to confess even to the only friend. I did not tell him I went out with old gay guys for proper dinners. On his end, I now suspect that he was not totally honest about his financial being. About how truly troubled he was.

Soon after I went back to Japan, he quit his university. He cut himself off from all his social circles. I heard that he had to, because he could no longer afford that tiniest flat in London. I had no way to confirm. He completely disappeared. There is no way to reach out to him today.

After that, my life changed. Instead of following my artist dreams, I pursued a career in consulting, which at least gave me financial stability. And yes, that was when I first ever shopped at a Paul Smith. Since then, I kept going back to the shops, somewhat believing that living our one-time dream would make our struggles back then worthwhile. Making those days meaningful. Both for me and for him.

Tadashi, my only true friend back in those days.

Look at me.

I now look so smart covered up with Paul Smith. Paul Smith trousers and a Paul Smith shirt. Even my socks have Paul Smith logos on.

And yet I wonder.

I wonder why I miss you so badly.

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