Kimo had set up his dojo on the upper floor of a newly opened bar-restaurant called La Violeta on the corner of Cristo Street and Fortaleza. It was an old colonial building with red terrazzo floors, a stone´s throw away from the Governor´s mansion. He lived there as well. The dojo occupied half of an open courtyard, with the practice area in a huge room overlooking Fortaleza street. I remembered going to lunch on the first floor of the building with my father in my early teens in the 60´s when it was still a worker´s bodega called La Danza.
I took off early from work one day for the dojo, hoping to talk with the sensei about joining. I scrounged the house for my Dirty Old Gi, tried to clean it as best I could, and took both my white and green belt to accomodate both my enthusiasm and my fear.
I got there an hour and a half before the scheduled class but the dojo was empty. I let out a timid onegaishimasu, and waited...and waited. Finally students began to arrive, I knew nobody. Suddenly Kimo appeared and smiled my way, asking if I came to practice. I froze and just nodded. That decided the issue. When I finished dressing I took out the white belt and swallowed deeply. Of course, when by habit I yelled out onegaishimasu as customary, Kimo shot me a glance, piercing and knowing. He strode over. White belt redux.