Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Moment of Truth, Take 1

Day Ten. The Day of Judgment. The day when I was finally going to see her again. Let's just say there was a bit of a buildup to today.
[Man, I've been avoiding writing up this one.]

First thing I realized when I woke up was that it was a very good thing that Satoshi and I had stopped to wake that guy up.

We probably had a foot of snow outside, easily. Where it came from, I can't say. We didn't get back until around two, and seven hours later there was all that snow. Freaky.

Satoshi had to take care of some stuff in Matsue, and then head back home to Tottori, so we got up pretty early and headed out, making a stop at Rampu no Yu. After that, Satoshi and I went out for breakfast and coffee.

It was good to see him and hang out with him again. It's also really cool that he's over in the States doing something he wants to do. Good luck, bud.

After we finished breakfast, I saw Satoshi off. I had some clothes drying over at the laundromat, so I drove around town a bit to kill time.

Then it was out to the Matsushitas. The Matsushitas are a family I got to know really well while I was in Izumo. Their daughter was one of my students who, while not terribly interested in English, was a really great kid to be around. I've kept in touch with them since I left Izumo, and when I said I was coming back, they told me to come on over.

I spent the afternoon out there, playing some games and talking with them about Hokkaido.

But I had places to go and people to see and scruffy facial hair, so a little past three, I went to get my beard shaved for the party that night. Ms. Matsushita recommended a local barber shop that could do it for me. While it was a tad expensive, the shave was nice, and I came away from it looking more like homo sapiens than Cro-magnon. The best part was that I got some tea and some roast chestnuts out of the deal.

After the shave, it was over to Bamboo to do some recording with You-Gay-Nay-San and Mr. Ishibashi. YGNS is, among other things, a DJ at the local radio station in Izumo. Mr. Ishibashi does a monthly feature with her about different kinds of alcohol and how they are made, good ways to drink them, etc. Kind of "The Classy Drinker". I recorded some stuff with them before I left as a "Goodbye, Dustin" feature on their show. Now that I was back, YGNS told me that we should do a "Welcome Back,, Dustin" feature. We recorded a twenty-minute segment where I talked about life in Hokkaido (anybody noticing a pattern by now?) and some of the alcohol up north. Fun stuff.

Once the recording was done, I still had about an hour before the Tei-Rei-Kai Party, so I boogied on over to Yukki's CD shop to get a copy of that CD. She was working at the counter, so we didn't have much time to talk, but she passed a copy along to me and said, "You'd better be ready with that on Saturday." Roger!

I still had a little time left, so I swung over to Arihara-en, a Japanese-style BBQ restaurant, to say hi to Tei, the owner. I met Tei right after I came to Izumo. He is zainichi, a person of Korean decent with permanent resident status in Japan. This is a concept that's a little hard for Americans to grasp. In the U.S., even if both your parents are a nationality other than American, if you are born on U.S. soil, you are granted American citizenship. Not so in Japan. Tei was born in Japan, but since both his parents are Korean, he is considered Korean and has to carry a Korean passport. (Heck, his parents may have even been born in Japan. I don't know. But even in that case, it doesn't matter.) Third-generation Japan-born "Koreans" live all over Japan. Some don't even speak a word of Korean, and have never even been to Korea, but they are still required to carry a Korean passport and have to go through the naturalization process if they want to be considered "Japanese". Don't even get me started on the naturalization process over here.

A better description of the zainichi situation can be found here.

Anyway, Tei is a really cool guy. He speaks English, Japanese, and Korean fluently, and has a really international view of the world. We talked for a bit, and then it was TIME. Time to go to Bamboo.

Since the roads were snowy, Tei offered to drive me over to Bamboo. He followed me back to Lisa's and then gave me a ride over there. I said goodbye and walked over to the entrance.

7 PM. Outside of Bamboo. It's cold, but I couldn't go in. I felt dizzy. I was twisted up inside. I was an absolute wreck. Part of it was nerves, part of it was the fact that I hadn't eaten anything since munching on that sandwich and coffee in the morning. I took a couple of deep breaths to calm my nerves (didn't work) and went inside.

[A short side note: You know you've got it bad when all of those crappy pop love songs that you could never stand all of the sudden take on this really deep and personal meaning. Lisa's car had one tape, and it was chock full of those kinds of songs. I was listening to each song and going "Oh, man, that's so TRUE." How revoltin'.]

Nobody was there. At least nobody from the party I was with. I had gone through all that preparation for nothing. I went over to our table and sat down. I felt sick. I needed some food. I asked for something simple so that I could at least have something in my stomach by the time everybody else showed up.

Too much buildup. I was miserable. It took the first other members of the group another half hour to show up. (This is something we call "Izumo Time". You show up thirty minutes late because you don't want anybody else to think you have too much free time. By the rules of "Izumo Time", I had free time coming out of my ears.)

Oh God. It's her.

I force a smile. Not that I wasn't thrilled to see her, but I was in a bad place mentally and wasn't functioning correctly.

"Long time no see."

So now the party of one is a party of three, as she showed up with her friend The Nurse. We make small talk, laughed a bit, and generally had a fun time. As more members of the gang showed up (Rumi, Rumi's Friend, YGNS), the food started coming as did the drinks.

I just couldn't get into it. "What the hell is wrong with me?" I kept thinking that the whole time. There were a couple of times where I just wanted to make up some excuse and leave, just get away from the whole messed up situation.

The more I tried to force myself to stop being a putz and have a good time, the more I withdrew. People asked me what was wrong, because I didn't seem like my usual self. "Oh, it's nothing. I'm just a little tired."

It was good to see everybody, and I did enjoy hanging out. But I never got a chance to talk to her alone, and I ended up feeling miserable and confused.

After the party, I felt like crap and wanted to crawl in a hole and die, but I that wasn't an option, so I did the next best thing: I went drinking.

Of course, I saw everybody else off first. As she was leaving, I told her that I wanted to see her the next day, and to please just give me thirty minutes of her time. She smiled and said, "I can't say for sure. I don't know how tomorrow's schedule will work out."


Then it was just me and Rumi. I invited her to come along with me to another bar, because I needed to talk, and she said she was really surprised that everybody went home. "Wanna hit another bar then?" "Sure."

So we walked over to Soul, and drank. And I talked about her.

Was I just being a nuisance to her?
Was she avoiding me?
Does she even care?
Should I even bother?

Rumi was a good listener. She also gave me the advice that I needed to hear.

"You're not a nuisance."
"She's not avoiding you."
"I'm sure she will be happy if you tell her how you feel."
"You have to try."

Thanks, Rumi. You dragged my self-loathing depressed-as-all-heck sorry self out of a very dark place.

But I was not done drinking.

We left Soul, and I saw her off. Then I walked over to Liberate and drank some more. After making sure I was good and drunk, I made my way back to Lisa's place. End Day Ten.

She's in this photo. I won't say where.

[Man, writing this one sucked. Felt like I was reliving that party. In a way, I was.]


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