My thoughts on myself and Noboko changed more often than I changed my underwear, which you will be happy to know was everyday... the underwear, that is.
It was obvious to me now, that Noboko was not making a commitment to me or us.
Her avoidance of the subject every time I brought up the future was painful for us both—I could see that.
She was being Japanese… that avoidance of having to say no… to disappoint… it's why the Japanese have 47 different ways of saying "Maybe", which equates to "no."
My favorite way the Japanese say "Maybe" is when they suck air loudly through their teeth and tilt their head slightly askew and tell you how it might be a "little difficult/chotto mizukashi" for something you want to happen.
It took a while to me to get that with Noboko, because despite her physical appearance, I never saw her as being Japanese… just a beautiful woman. My woman.
Of course, I eventually learned that "MY" woman was not actually "mine", and that I was being forced to share her with a father that didn't want her with me (to save face at his job)… and a daughter who had previously disappointed her father regarding a failed marriage proposal from another Japanese dude that she felt obligated this time - to do the right thing on behalf of her father.
Lucky. Fugging. Me.
It's Monday, and I have a good-bye party tomorrow night involving my OBOE (Ohtawara-shi Board of Education) office and all of the JTEs (Japanese teachers of English) at the Ohtawara Cultural Center, which is only a banquet hall and has no real anything showing culture.
I also have a party on Friday night, given in my honor by the Ohtawara International Friendship Association who have been so kind to myself, Matthew, Ashley (who left the year previous), and a host of other foreigners who are working at various Japanese companies on international secondment, and students from Asian countries (including India) from the Asian Rural Institute who are studying Japanese farming techniques.
The parties are killing me… it's taking away time I should be spending alone with Noboko to try and change her mind… but, selfishness aside, I am only too glad to be at these good-bye parties.
I am not looking forward to returning home to Toronto, Canada. It's the last bloody thing on my mind.
Yes, I want to be back to see my friends, watch some baseball and hockey, and my family, including my mother who is sick in the hospital with something so terrible no one will tell me what's wrong… but even my mother would want me to ensure I had done everything I could regarding Noboko.
My mother met Ashley, and for whatever reason, didn't like the shy and introverted American.
My mother also met Karen, a new arrival in Japan when my mom visited in the summer of 1991, and liked her - perhaps because Karen was very much a home-body and definitely not as introverted or as shy as Ashley… I mean, she would come over to my apartment while I'm out and hang with my mother doing knitting. More like nesting, but whatever.
My mother never got to meet the affable Trish Pepper - and neither have you, dear reader, so we'll have to do a flashback eventually… but she would have loved her - who was smart as a whip and possessor of a wonderful smile and sparkly eyes that would make YOU smile. Pity she had a boyfriend back home in the U.S. I respect that. Trish was a very good friend for a while… and I think we only drifted apart because I had girlfriends.
My mother had also never met Noboko, but she and everyone else seemed to approve of her, from the way I described our relationship, how I won her, the photographs I sent, and even that one time Noboko said hello to her on the telephone - polite reverence and awe - from both of them.
So… this is my last week at Ohtawara Chu Gakko (Ohtawara Junior High School), the largest middle school in the city, and the one I spent the most time at.
Although, my personal favorite school was Nozaki Chu Gakko where Noboko was a JTE, because those students there were the ones who convinced her that I was nice enough to date.
You'll recall that Noboko thought I was some slick hipster sleazeball who was sleeping with every woman he saw - which was only half correct… I was no hipster.
Actually, I never hit on any woman while I was in Japan. I made myself available to be hit on by them. It's my shyness. I know, you call bullcrap, but it was and is true.
Noboko was the first woman I ever asked out in Japan. She was also the last.
Noboko brought over vegetables, noodles and meats and within 30 minutes or less had cooked up a meal that finally obscured that wonderful smell of sex from my apartment. At least for the next hour.
She was spending each night at my place, with a change of clothes hidden buddha-knows-where on her.
Sleeping over… single… her parents knowing what was going on… Japanese? Holy crap!
It's why I was confused. She wouldn't do that to embarrass her father unless she meant to embarrass her father. It's why I still believed I had a chance to win Noboko over to the dark brown side.
She was pissed off at her father for screwing things up with me. Making her choose.
Hell… I made her choose… and she wasn't going to… so I had to make sure her father caught us being a couple - kissing…
She was never (to my knowledge) angry at her for making her choose. She chose me… but then…. she began to waffle… and by not saying yes or no or maybe, she implied she would be staying in Japan while I went home to Toronto never to return.
After a well-deserved sweaty and naked breather, I said to her: "Noboko-chan… I am going home to Toronto soon…"
"Oooooh" she said as she buried her head in my hairy chest (sorry… it is) and began to cry.
"But I want you to know that I love you so very much, and that I will come back in September. I just have to see how my mom is first, and then I'll be back as soon as I can."
Her wet-eyed smile said all I had hoped it would.