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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Why My Life Sometimes Sucked In Japan

He'd been living with her for a month before he worked up the nerve to ask her out. Fantasy was his best friend. He'd screwed her 100 times before he'd ever touched her hand.


He whispers into his cupped hand and says "I love you."
He places the hand up to her ear and asks, "Can you hear it?"
He then puts his hand in hers, "Can you feel it? Every time I a touch your hand, I'm telling you I love you. For better, for poorer, through sickness and in health, I will always love you."
He looked into her deep brown eyes and felt as though he could lose himself in her.
He didn't realize he already had.
He thought, but did not speak, "Will you marry me?"


He sat on his balcony ledge wearing nothing but a pair of blue and grey striped shorts, his Ray Bans, and a two-day growth of beard.
Although the sun was smiling, he was not.
He knew it was mean and spiteful, but it was the only way he could end it.
She had ended it six weeks ago.
He was just too blind to see the writing on the wall.
He'd have to get his eyes checked soon, he muttered to the skylark doing a figure eight in the blue sky in front of him.
"A figure eight. Hunh,' he thought. "More like infinity."
That was how much he loved her, and now he was reduced to being mean and ruthless.
"I still love her or else I wouldn't feel so guilty."
The self-flagellation went on for hours and hours, and only stopped when he wen to bed.
And then the nightmares began.
His mind raced over their relationship. Fast. Furious. Love. Hate? No... never hate. At least not on his part. He remembered the saying his father's spiritualist said of him: Things are always black or white - never grey."
He never understood that as fully as he did now.
For some reason he fathomed that those who wait too long to find love often dove into it too quickly the first time it presents itself.
In his case, it led to drowning.
Drowning in those luxurious brown eyes.
He longed to kiss her. To just hold her hand once more.
Sighing, he knew she'd never allow that to happen again.
You can only ride the roller coaster so many times before you get either sick or bored.
Then you want to try the Tilt-o-Whirl.
He wondered why man doth torture himself so.
Upon rides that take you to the brink of nauseous excitement and then stop just as you started to get used to it.
Just like love.

By Andrew Joseph
The above was written on April 29, 1992 on my balcony in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan. I recently found a little red book that I carted around with me upon which I jotted down notes, thoughts, concepts, story ideas. There was no title for what I wrote, but I think what is written above is apt. The story is in three parts... each describing how I felt at particular points in a single relationship.
In this case, it was coming up to my second year in Japan, and my sometime girlfriend Ashley was going back to the U.S., having had enough of me and Japan, and looking forward to starting her real life.
She was the first woman I believe I ever fell in love with, though certainly not the last. The sentiments expressed that day over 20 years ago feel as real now, as they did then. I was a late bloomer when it came to women, having not even had my first date until I was 22, and my first girlfriend a few months later. I just couldn't find a woman who actually understood me.... and so... four years later in Japan... I found myself diving into the dating pool and being pulled under by the very person I had hoped would rescue me. It seems as though every person I dated was weak in some way... needing me to rescue them, when I always thought it was me who needed rescuing.
Here's a sobering thought: I think I only ever fell in love with one strong woman whom I first met in a pool of tears.  

Any how... being young and emotionally-challenged in Japan, I let my emotions cry havoc and I fear I did not always feel happy in Japan. That's my fault, of course. One shouldn't let one's emotions get the best of them - if possible - but since I am not clinically affected emotionally, I should have been better able to drag my morose ass out of the deep-end. Faster.
My only saving grace, however, was that my friends in Japan never let me wallow in despair. Or maybe it was also true to say that Japan never let me wallow in pity.
I guess I owe Japan.    


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