Multitudes hurry across the pulsating Shibuya crossing in chilly 39 degrees Tokyo, creating a whipping wind that almost blows away the one and only crumpled dollar bill clutched in my hand.
The hubbub and cacophonous music of the street mutes my voice when I ask a passing man for directions to the nearest ramen shop. I hear my ravenous stomach growl louder than ever. With the cold gusts whipping my face, warm ramen has never been more desirable.
When my basketball teammate Mackenzie and I finally get directions, there is only half an hour before the shop closes. What’s good is that it’s only half a mile away, but that half mile is through the most crowded part of Tokyo.
After squeezing past business professionals and rush hour traffic, dodging carefree children running faster than the speed of light, and trying to agree which way we’re supposed to turn, we finally make it eighteen minutes before closing. The neon “open” sign brings a wave of relief to both of us as we dash in, out of breath, anxious to taste the result of our hard work as we wait in line.
I hold the steaming bowl of ramen to my nose, delighted by the savory, umami aroma. As I bring the deep spoon of porky broth to my lips, a puff of wind whooshes by me; poor Mackenzie has tripped and fallen, the contents of her purse spilling onto the white-tiled floor. I set down my spoon to help pick up her historical fiction paperback and Uno cards, but suddenly feel hardwood. The wood of our table. Horrified, I watch my hard-earned golden noodles, juicy pork, rich broth, and perfectly sauteed vegetables fly out of the tipped bowl in sloooowww moootioon, splattering on the spot my friend just rose from.
Before I have time to mourn, staring at the empty wooden table where my ramen would have been, a bowl slides in front of me. I jump back in surprise to see Mackenzie smiling, “You sacrificed your bowl to help me, we should share this...”
Along with learning how heavenly and filling ramen can be, I also realized that helping others fills me up too—maybe even a little more.