Over thirty years ago I remember playing with He-Man figurines and being one among my classmates who coveted the big red tricycle. Whose idea was it to purchase three small and slow tricycles, and one large ultra-fast tricycle? What a cruel joke to play on kindergartners. This was our first lesson in how unfair the world could be. All of us at Pilgrim School at that time had few worries and our limitation was the chain-linked fence that outlined the playground. Beyond that barrier a whole other world of big people existed. Within those confines I interacted with my classmates, James, Sung Min, Obinna, and Eduardo (Edo for short). Since then our worlds have grown beyond the perimeter of that playground which sadly no longer exists.
Eduardo was the first ‘Edo’ I knew. As an athlete he was one of the first to be chosen on any team. We shared countless adventures together from Big Bear, Silver Lake, to annual birthdays at Aaron’s house in Studio City. It wasn’t until about seven years ago that I learned about another Edo.
Obinna was my classmate at Pilgrim too. While I watched TV religiously and listened to hip hop Obinna hit the books hard. On a few visits to his home I learned that the TV was a minor part whereas in my home it played an integral role. I felt an air of superiority over him since I knew more about pop culture. Once while riding in my mom’s car he asked “What song is this? Who sings this?” Offended by his questions I scoffed: “OMG, you don’t know?” It was Cypress Hill’s ‘How I Could Just Kill A Man’. I think Obinna’s strong family values and his Nigerian roots spurred him on to success. He went on to enviably graduate from an Ivy League university. This was little surprise knowing that he spent everyday after school at the library studying and working. In Obinna’s native land, one of the most prominent African cities is located in Benin City which is located in the state of Edo.
Finally in 2013 while traveling to the Japanese city of Nagasaki I met an old man who led me on a museum tour. I was his only guest. He was delighted because he hadn’t come across many visitors in a while who demanded his services — that of providing English language tours. During my tour he showed me several artifacts from a special period in Japan’s history — the Edo period. I remarked: “Just like my former classmate! His name is Edo too.” To which he replied: “That is a different Edo. Your classmate’s name is Edo because it is short for Eduardo.”