Manhattan, and the other 3 boroughs of New York City, I could take or leave.
But I ♥ Brooklyn…
I spent the better part of my life there, and learned a great deal about who I am in that amazing community.
…and more importantly, I loved ME in Brooklyn!
After thirty years of being a Brooklynite, I was finally learning where my true passion rested and was putting it to work…when this happened:
And, Brooklyn, New York, the US, hell, most of the so-called free world was never the same.
In the chaos that followed, I misplaced my passion and couldn’t remember where I’d set it down.
My hometown had been posterized by (Insert Villain of choice here i.e. Bush, Osama, Hussein, whoever). I felt helpless, hopeless, demoralized, vulnerable…I was possibly even traumatized.
I needed a change of scenery for a spell, I self-prescribed.
And, Japan was just what an unlicensed quack (like me) would order…
A country still, in many ways, reeling from and traumatized by its own 9/11 style attack, in the form of two nuclear bombs…ironically delivered by my country.
Nevertheless, I found myself amid distractions galore in this cultural theme park! All the diversions any man could ask for. The void my missing passion left was filled with the challenge of a new language, fascination with new customs, an infatuation with exotic women…and eventually even love!
I thought I had found nirvana…
But, then I suffered a blow even more severe than 9/11 and lost my closest friend and lover.
I was reeling…center ring…almost asking for the next blow to be swift and deadly…
But the Creator wasn’t done with me just yet.
Instead of showing me an early exit, the Creator sent me a new love, and as complicated a relationship as I’ve ever had…even more complicated than the relationship I had with Brooklyn.
And that’s saying a lot!
For I did and do love Brooklyn.
But I also hate Brooklyn. It’s true. I romance the stone a lot on this blog, but the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Brooklyn left much to be desired. Both, what it had once been, the Brooklyn I grew up in, and what it has steadily become since long before I made my exodus.
From a neglected disaster of a ghetto replete with drugs, homicides, disease, illiteracy, gangs, anger and despair; a community that took much more than it gave, to a rapidly gentrifying dislocation disaster area with dissolving character and distinctiveness, replete with cafes, bistros and sushi bars, and a plethora of upwardly mobile folk and predators dead set on exploiting, gutting and defacing her, while maintaining her precious brownstone housing stock…and this, all in my lifetime!
But, socio-politics aside, I never really felt entirely safe in Brooklyn. Some might say that’s a good thing, myself included at a time (and maybe that’s one of the impacts Japan has had on me) but the result of this insecurity is I never even considered raising a family there. My dream was to get rich and get out. And now that she has begun to rise from the debris, thanks almost entirely to people I know personally who never gave up on her even in her darkest hours, I feel torn between embracing the changes and mourning the losses. Ironically, I’d have to almost be rich before I could even afford to move back to Brooklyn.
Yes, a very complicated relationship.
So, what does the Creator do? He enthralled me with yet another complicated relationship…with a town called Yokohama.
Almost immediately, I was hooked.
From the restaurants of Chinatown…
to the rice fields of Tana…
It’s LOVE, I tell you! Head over heels!
It suited me…and maybe that was by design.
Yokohama actually has several things in common with Brooklyn. For one, Yokohama is to Tokyo as Brooklyn is to Manhattan, which gives it a similar energy, I think. Saitama, my previous home, was more like Central Jersey. (-;
That, and other facets, enabled Yokohama to win my heart…
But, as readers of Loco in Yokohama well know, and as the Creator in his infinite wisdom knew when He guided someone with my experience (talents) and disposition here, the challenge for me was loving a place while holding many of the people who populate the place in contempt.
Again, similar to my situation in Brooklyn. I could do without a good number of the people there, as well.
As Chris Rock, another Brooklynite, once said (and I, grudgingly, concur):
What many readers fail to realize, as evidenced by some of the comments I’ve received over the years, is this: I’ve become what could easily be classified as a Yokohamaphile – in the best sense of the word, of course.
The love I have for Yokohama is partially as a result of what she has done for me. Call it love derived from loyalty. Yokohama slapped me upside the head and woke my ass up and showed me exactly where my passion was hiding itself. She helped me tap into that well of creativity inside of me, and restored my sense of purpose and direction, at a time when I was in dire need.
And for that I’ll be eternally grateful, and motivated to return the favor!
Think of LIY as a much needed slap upside Yokohama’s head, with the intention of waking her up to her fullest potential. I think anyone who offers their love without these intentions is simply patronizing her.
And I hate that!
My expectations for Japan were very low before coming here to Yokohama. But there’s something about the energy generated by this city, and yes some of the Japanese people I know here as well, and that has helped me keep my chin up when the going’s tough. I try to capture that energy in my writing and in my photographs, but I still feel I haven’t quite got it right.
But I continue to strive, to give my best, and to expect the best, for Yokohama, and I, (and my ex, Brooklyn, for that matter) deserve nothing less!