But the alarm doesn't wake me up - rather the small of bacon does. I look around, Noboko is up and the alarm says 9AM.
She's late for work!
"Noboko! You're late for work!"
"Noooooo," she yells back as the bacon sizzles.
I slide open our bedroom door, and she there, dressed in a shirt and jeans, barefoot, cooking up a big pile of my bacon, scrambled eggs lightly bubbling in a second pan.
Where the hell am I?
Oh yeah… Japan… three more days left in my stay here. It's Monday, July 19, 1993. The three years here were fast sometimes, deathly slow other times.
Since I want to stay, and time is relative to the observer, it has been extremely quick.
Noboko is not coming with me to Toronto when my contract is up. I'm going back to check on the health of my mother, and when satisfied, I'm hopping on a plane and coming back to Noboko to probe my love for her - to convince her we should get married.
If you could see her all domestic like she is now, you would think we were already married.
I'm sure she wants to marry me, and dammit, I have asked, but I get that noncommittal 'we'll see', which means, in the Japanese vernacular 'ain't nothing happening, dude.'
The problem is her father… who wants her to get married and off the old-maid bandwagon at nearly 28-years of age, but just not to a gaijin who will bring down his own stock and his career as a politico within the education system of Tochigi-ken.
The problem is made worse by the fact that she was previously engaged to an acceptable Japanese man when she was still a maiden (ha), and she broke it off, earning her father's ire.
She's doing it again by living here at my place this past week… physically living in my apartment, acting like a real western couple - hand-holding, kissing, allowing me to buy her undergarments and dinner…
… all things that are kept on the down-low in unmarried Japanese relationships. Maybe even in married Japanese relationships.
And here she is cooking us breakfast when she should have been at work over an hour ago.
"Uh… work?" I suggest again.
"Not going… I took the week off," she says plating our breakfast. "Now sit down and eat before it gets cold."
Between bites of her scrambled eggs—almost no shells in mine—"Day off?"
"Days," she corrects me, as she slurps an entire bacon slice into her pretty little mouth.
"You're leaving, and I want to spend every minute of every day with you," she continues.
"Plus, after you leave, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be very sad, and I don't want to need to be at work when I'm sad."
"I'm sorry," I mumble, wondering how the eggs don't really taste like any scrambled eggs I have ever made for myself these past three years. What is that taste? Don't ask. You'll spoil the mood. Even though it seems like it's kind of a downer right now.
"So… what do you want to do today? Shall we get naked and continue from where we left off last night?"
That was me, by the way. If we're parting ways until I come back, I want to ensure she's as sexed up as she can be so she'll really miss me when I'm gone.
There's method to my horniness. Rhythm, even. Hmmm… I should do a count again, later…
"Do you want to climb Mt. Nasu?" she asks.
"Again? Sure… why not? Are you tired of showing me off here in Ohtawara?"
"Yes," she answers… I'm never sure if she means that or if the tense confuses her. Her English is damn near perfect, but anyone can make a mistake.
"Should we pack some food, or buy some food at 7-11?" I ask.
"It's already packed, in your bag, sitting in my car. Go to the bathroom, get dressed and I'll put away the dishes," she wifes.
I'm not sure if 'wifes' is the correct word, but her implication is quite clear. It's a family trip on our day off, and she's in charge. Just as the wife always is in Japan.
It's a little off-putting, to be honest.
I love Noboko. I love her independent spirit and everything about her. What I don't like is her cooking, but shut the hell up, eh, and the fact that she's acting like my slave.
There's a time and place for a little master-slave relationship, to be sure, but she could have told me earlier she was taking the week off (we might not have stopped at 1AM), or she could have asked me what we should do tomorrow (today) as though my opinion really mattered… but that's just the Canadian in me.
I'd like Noboko to have a little Canadian in her. Ha. I see what I just wrote.
The previous time she and I had climbed Mt. Nasu, an active group of complex volcanoes essentially in my backyard maybe 10 kilometers north of our apartment, we somehow stumbled off the trail and ended up clinging to the side of the steaming rocky face of the mountain I was then calling Mount Terror.
Then the fog came rolling in, and I was beginning to think she and I were going to die after losing our footing. Okay… I thought I was going to die… she was as sure-footed as a mountain goat. You can read about that adventure HERE.
So… WTF, who doesn't love the whole "I nearly died in Japan" experience every few months? All though I can think of many more exciting ways to die—such as while having sex, providing me with the opportunity to come and go at the same time—I'm not that enamored with death, or heights.
Planes don't bother me in the slightest, but buildings with glass windows, and mountains where there is no side beside me… unh-uh.
Anyhow, Mount Nasu (那須岳 Nasu-dake), is we are to listen to good ol' Wikipedia, is one of the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains, which all that really tells me is that Japan has too many fugging lists of purported important things.
Technically, Mount Nasu and its five major peaks (including its tallest peak of Sanbonyari Peak at a height of 1,916.9 meters (6,289 feet)) is actually in the northeast park of Nikko National Park.
Now… as mentioned previously, Noboko drives one of those Suzuki micro cars that has an engine barely stronger than a lawnmower, so we'll not be driving UP the mountain.
Even still, our trip to the base of the hill does involve some uphill driving, and subconsciously I lift my butt of the seat and lean forward to urge the little beast upwards. It doesn't work, science be damned. Okay, the science isn't damned, but damn it.
We eventually get to Mt. Nasu, park in the wide-open outdoor parking lot. There's no one at the mountain today, no surprise considering it's a work day. I guess that means no one will find the bodies for a few more days.
Surprisingly - to me - Noboko has a better plan on how to get up the mountain, and pulls out a map that shows exactly where we are - in fact the car park where we parked the car has a big blue X on it. The blue ink continues along some pathway and without any trouble, it shows the zig-zag path to some spot (I think I'm going to need a zig-zag), where it abruptly seems to go straight up the damn mountain.
It's 10:30AM, and the trek begins… but with the map, which also denotes how far we are to travel, and Noboko have some sort of personal distance calculator strapped her her svelte waist, we know exactly where we are.
We are here. Always.
The path meanders upwards for a bit, and since I'm holding onto Noboko's hand most of the way, I don't even notice anything else around me… I'm just holding on to the moist warmth of her hand in my hand… I can still feel it…
After a little while, we come to a touristy area, and go up the Nasu Ropeway with goes up-up-and-away taking us 800 meters up the mountain to within a mere 35 minute walk to the summit of the Mt. Nasudake peak.
As mentioned, I don't mind being in an airplane - even the small two-seaters - but the Ropeway is hardly an airplane.
It's a window surrounded death box hanging by a wire… moving side to side with every gusty burst of wind.
I only have three days left to impress Noboko, so you can better your bottom yen I'm doing my best not to appear scared, so I flash her the old Joseph smirk and ask her if she's all right.
"Actually," she begins, "the winds are kind of making me nervous."
"Come here," I suggest.
I'm sitting in the middle of the otherwise empty Rope car and I feel that having her sitting right beside me will create a far better balance.
I squelch over an inch or two to maintain that perfect harmony of weight distribution, pulling her in close, her compact body folded into the left side of mine… my chin resting on her apple-blossom-scented hair.
I close my eyes and inhale.
And to swallow the fear, I concentrate on her…. which you would think would sooth my soul, but no… I'm always thinking… and all it does is bring up the anxiety that I'm leaving Japan and she and I aren't going to be able to make this work.
I sigh audibly.
Because I have photographic proof, we must have arrived at the top, looked around, eaten our packed lunch, and then somehow traveled back down, hiked some more, squeezed into her car and driven back to our place.
It was all such a blur… or least it appears to be a blur to me now as I write this. I can't find a single memory beyond the troublesome Rope car ride up the mountain.
I assume we survived, and this isn't some stupid lost episode of Lost or something that Pamela Ewing was dreaming of (for you older readers - out of our Principal memories).
I assume we had dinner - perhaps something Noboko cooked, perhaps something from the fastfood chain Mosburger. Why isn't that girl fat? Oh yeah… all that calorie-burning we do every night.
I'm lost in a romance, wilderness of pain. And the only thing that snaps me out of my reverie is the sex.
But it's not sex, you know. It's called making love. I love that we can do that.
Some where X marks the spot.