From “A place in heaven” by Prince
“…It’s not something I’m ready to talk about,” I told him. “Not yet. Give me a few weeks or so…”
“Well, can you give me a hint?” He asked. I had him curious now.
The cafe around us was filling up with the after-work crowd and the waitresses were hustling from table to table settling them in and serving them.
“I wouldn’t know where to begin…” I said.
“One sec,” he said. “Sumimasen!”
The waitress acknowledged his beckon with a shriek of “hai!” as she trotted by with someone’s order in her hands…”shou shou o-machi kudasai.” (I’ll be with you in just a moment.)
A 20-something couple came through the door dressed sharply and came our way. They hadn’t seen us yet they were so focused on the empty table beside ours. They paused before the table as the man noticed us and flinched like he’d seen a rat scurry by. His companion had already begun to slide into the booth when, just before she could plant her behind on the bench, he grabbed her arm and pointed towards another table across the room. The girl was a little confused by his suddeness and sensed something was amiss. She looked around to see what (which I could tell from the expression on his face he wished she hadn’t done), saw me and my friend, smiled awkwardly and rose and followed her beau across the room. I didn’t watch them go. Instead I watched my friend to see his reaction. He shrugged his acknowledgement and said, “where’s that waitress at?”
“When you see shit like that what do you think?” I asked. I was curious at his total lack of reaction.
“That’s how Japanese people are…what you gonna do? Waste your life writing and whining about it?” and snorted a laugh.
“It doesn’t bother you at all?” I asked. I wasn’t buying his nonchalance.
“Not enough to get me up in arms,” he said. “I mean, sometimes, sometimes, I want to react. But then I tell myself reacting to them gives them power over me. I’d much rather ignore them. If they want to live in a world where it’s ok to treat people that way, more power to them. My peace of mind is my priority.”
“Omatase shite shimatte taihen moshiwake arimasendeshita” (I’m very sorry to have kept you waiting) the waitress said as she arrived before us, bowing deeply.
“Nama biiru wo futatsu kudasai. (Two regular beers please) Don’t worry, I got this round,” he said. “I think you need one and you’re making me need one.”
As the waitress sped away I asked him, ” Do you really think I should leave Japan?”
“I sincerely hope you don’t. You’re about the only real friend I got here…” he said kind of sadly. “But I wouldn’t blame you if you did…I know it’s been rough on you. And if you find the conditions here as intolerable and unacceptible as some of your blog posts suggest, I don’t see you have much choice.”
“Some of my blog posts describe in detail why I love it here too…”
“Really? I didn’t see those…are there many?”
“Yes!” I almost shouted. “I think I have a balanced life here. At least as balanced as it was back in New York. Maybe more so. And I think my blog reflects that balance.”
“You really think so?”
“Ok…” I sighed. “Initially it didn’t I admit. I started the blog in the midst of a dark patch, if you remember. I’d lost Aiko and she was my touchstone, my lifeline. And I’d just recently moved from Saitama to Yokohama, which didn’t live up to its hype of being this place where Japanese are less…Japanese, cuz of all the foreigners living here. So, I was in hell, yo. And that may not seem like the ideal place to write from but I think I squeezed a lot of quality posts and essays out of that period. Hell, that writing is what put me on the map, so to speak. Some of my readers identified with my pain, and some just appreciated how I put myself out there. I reached people. I touched people. I even built up a little following, a small but quality readership, and they in turn fed my creativity and kept me motivated. Writing and my readers got me through that rough patch as much as anything else. Even more so than my friends and family, my writing was there for me. ”
“Ok…” he said, and he finally stopped looking at me like I’d truly lost it. “What now?”
“What now? Well, I’m going through another transition, and I’m putting together a game plan…”
“A game plan?” he said, straigtening up. He wasn’t used to this kind of language from me. “Let’s hear it!”
“Ok, let’s face it: I’ve never been a sunshine and flowers kind of guy anyway, have I? You know me… I was Loco even before I came to this man’s country, and I’ll be Loco when I leave. In the meantime I think it’s high time Loco became all he can be.”
“Here?” he asked, surprised. “In Japan?”
“Good a place as any. Sinatra said it best I think, if I can make it here, I’ll make it anywhere…”
“What do you mean ‘make it’?”
“Make Loco work for me. Make the life I always wanted. Make it happen!”
“How to whine your way to succees in 10 easy steps?”
We both laughed as our beers arrived.
“Here’s to making it happen in twenty 10!” he toasted.
“I’ll kanpai to that!” (Japanese “cheers”)
Owari. (The end)