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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Noboko And Andrew: The Final Countdown

So… it is July of 1993. It appears as though Noboko has chosen myself over her father, and I am ecstatic…

AT LAST! Let the bells ring! Let the people shout! Three cheers and a tiger for me! I finally caught her!

This has been the most amazing three-plus months of my life!

Whirlwind? You betcha! But in a way, I suppose I am keeping up with the Jones'.

Matthew will be getting married to Takako in August a week or so after I leave Japan… but said they are having a big ol' party back in the U.S. that I am invited to sometime later in August.

Jeff… he already got married a week or two ago…

And now I have Noboko.

It's not a competition—I know that, but I do use others as a reference point for my own life, and while I admit to being envious of both Matt and Jeff, I am not jealous.

It's funny… all three of us gaijin… meeting and enjoying each other's company at that first get together for all new Tochigi-ken JETs a day after arriving in Japan…

All three of us writing fresh material for the Tochigi-ken JET newsletter. All three of us kind of nerdy, but exceedingly smart witted in completely different ways from the other.

Matthew may have been the 'luckiest' of us all, in that Takako's father had/has no problems at all with foreigners and was/is progressive enough to realize that her happiness means happiness for himself.

Jeff… his father-in-law hated gaijin (foreigners)… but Jeff's wife didn't give a crap what anyone else thought and told her father she was marrying him, and he could either be a part of their life or not. He chose to be a part of both their lives, as individuals and as a couple.

Andrew - Hey! That's me! - Noboko's dad doesn't hate gaijin, doesn't hate me, wants his daughter married, but doesn't want her to marry me MOSTLY because he believes such an unholy union would be devastatingly bad for any future career he might believe he has.

In Japan, when you are a career salary man, all you know is your job. His daughter marrying me was like a kryptonite bullet going through his brain.

After he found out a few days ago, that Noboko and I were a real couple and not just friend/gaijin… well, he basically told her to stay away from me for the sake of his own job.

I understand that. I really do. But why can't Noboko and I be happy? Fug him.

I'll take her back to Toronto with me - see how he likes that!

The next few days and weeks fly by… it's now July, and Noboko and I pretty much spend every single waking hour of every single day together when we aren't working.

In fact, Noboko has been acting just like a non-Japanese as far as her work commitment goes, not working very late, and always leaving before the bosses.

I don't think anyone at her school says anything, however, because of two things.

1) Her father is the boss of all the junior high school principals in the northern section of the province of Tochigi.

2) I think they all knew she and I were a couple, and that school really liked me a lot, as I liked them. The students at Nozaki Chu Gakko had gone out of their way to make me seem as sexy as Brad Pitt, funny as Chris Pratt, and as cool as Andrew Joseph… which isn't all that cool, but what are you gonna do? So… if there were going to be any complaints about her gaijin-like work habits, they would not be made until after I was out of the picture. If I was to remain in the picture, say… stay in Japan and be married to her, well, perhaps she would re-Japanize herself… but dammit what would it matter anyway? Surely Andrew would have her knocked up very quickly and that would be it for any sort of a work career.

Yeah, I really think like this sometimes.

The only time I am usually caught unawares, is when a woman will ask me what I would do to her in the 'sack'. I don't know… really… it kind of depends on the vibes I pick up… I might fantasize a lot, but I don't think particulars... much… as the anticipation of an expectation is far better than expectations never met.

That sentence sounded better in my brain… forget I wrote it, please.

So… the weeks have passed, Noboko is not pregnant. She has not said she is coming with me to Toronto, nor have any plans been made for us past my JET contract expiring. She still seems upset, and at last it dawns on me, that she is upset because she (and I) have caused a big problem (eventually) for her father.

In my mind she was just sad, but seemed to thoroughly enjoy her time with me both clothed and unclothed—semi-clothed was just plain awkward. And we really did spend a lot of time with each other.

Ever since the Spring, I had been getting up early every Saturday morning and would ride my bicycle all over Ohtawara-shi, finding new places, seeing new things, wondering how long ago these things were constructed, and if they were still in use.

Things like the old Ohtawara-eki train station... the old train line that I followed... the bicycle road trip out west where I found a running creek, snake holes and a new-found love of nature away from the rice fields.

I did this every Saturday, leaving my apartment by 8AM after Noboko had left, and just getting on my bicycle and riding in whatever direction I felt like. I was never going to get lost, because the people of Ohtawara knew me and would always tell me where to go. :) You get that word-play joke, right?

I had no plan... I just drifted like a cherry blossom petal on the winds of fate. But I would always plan to be home by 2PM, when Noboko would arrive from her Saturday half-plus day of teaching English.

Despite the unbridled joy I felt at having a way-to-beautiful woman willing to be at my beck and call (not what I wanted), but also willing to let me lead her... well... I couldn't believe how the fortunes of Japan had changed for me.

And yet... because of her lack of chatter about coming to live with me in Toronto... or about plans for us in the near and far future... I always knew I could never be that lucky.

In 1993, my thoughts were all over the place. I do not suffer from any sort of mental illness or chemical imbalance. I was just afraid of the truth even though I didn't know what the truth was.

This is what I thought. Maybe I even thought like this every single day of my life in Japan.

To be, or not to be, that is the question—
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them? To die, to sleep—
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there's the rub...

~Hamlet, by William Shakespeare

So… with your permission, let's do a long run on my daily life in Japan, and even beyond Japan, which is cool, because it's still about Japan.

Tomorrow… 10 days left in Japan.

Who would fardels bear,
Andrew Joseph
PS: The quote above my line is also from Hamlet. "Fardels" is an interesting and yet archaic way of saying "burdens".
PPS: Today's title is from the rock group Europe, and their big hit The Final Countdown.

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