Here’s some shit that went down recently.
After The Conversation of 17 March, 2017, 7:45am (roughly), I had a proper freakout while speed-walking away from the office in full view of him, waiting at the intersection about a meter behind me. I know he was there because I am exceedingly nearsighted but I always can see him from a distance or at a glance because of his fucking blue and red Patagonia jacket, which he wears over his colorful sweaters and suit trousers like a giant nerd.
I ran up an overhead walkway and back down, almost falling down the stairs, bypassing my intended destination of the grocery store because it was closed—of course it was closed, it wasn’t a normal human hour to be doing anything let alone confessing the innards of your heart to some guy in that little alley behind Family Mart where everyone smokes and the planters sprout sad shrubs and cigarette butts in equal numbers—and went to Lawson. Maybe it was Family Mart. I needed coffee because the day before I had run out and begged some off of him in caffeine-less desperation, imagining for half a second that things were okay. If they had been okay I would have just demanded it like he always did to me, back when we would glance at each other in turns and quickly look away until our eyes met and we started laughing, and we’d go, “What?” at the same in the same ticked off way, and then “Nothing!” also simultaneously, but I asked nicely this time.
But you don’t have the most awkward conversation of your life with someone, lay your heart on the ground by his feet in their incongruous dress shoes that he walks in like he’s not sure where the ground is, and then beg for coffee. So I bought instant coffee of the creamy latte variety and hyperventilated my way to work.
Walking down the little back streets with their profusion of plants and the collection of shag-carpet-type cushions laid out to dry outside like so many mushrooms sprouting across the guardrail, I was thinking about how beautiful everything was. How stunningly lovely. The world felt brighter. Half of my heart felt light and rose to meet the morning sun with elation and a sense of accomplishment and the other half was just screaming.
I passed the baseball boys practicing behind the school and smiled, because the baseball boys are widely acknowledged to be the sweetest kids in the school, and they all occupy a very special place in my heart.
On the way in, I ran into my friend, and we laughingly talked all the way upstairs and into the locker room, sounding for all the world like two very normal coworkers, one of whom wasn’t foreign and who hadn’t just broken her own heart. She’ll never how important she is to me for the way she just takes for granted that we’ll always have each other’s backs.
He said my name—properly, this time, which he didn’t do a week ago and I noticed and thought come on, man, at least do me the courtesy of calling me the way I want even if you hate me; it turns out he doesn’t hate me, so I can’t even fall back on that excuse anymore—and gave me 3000 yen for the cigarettes I got in Taiwan, which I actually got duty free this time and not at the convenience store in a panic. He forgot to remind me to give them to him all day and I’m not going to be the one to bring it up.
Fast forward. Drinking on the riverside and thinking that Tokyo is such an amazing place and I feel so gently content to be here, particularly on this riverside where the grass is soft and if you follow the river with your eyes you can see the Pacific Ocean stretching away beyond all the delicate little bridges that slingshot subways and cars back and forth, Edogawa to Koto to Edogawa to Koto.
Fast forward, through an evening with my closest friends, through a day with someone who I think is my best friend, who is patient and funny and really cool even though she won’t admit it, through dinner with her and my other best friend, laying on the floor and taking pictures of them poking around in the oden pot.
Fast forward, through an afternoon I spent sitting on the river again eating canned pineapple and squinting at people running and biking.
To clarify and reiterate: at no point in these past two days since The Conversation have I stopped thinking about it, panicking about it, feeling sick over it, wondering what was wrong with me over it, wanting to yell over it, over the memory of me and my mouth saying those words I’d rehearsed in my sleep, dreaming fitfully of my speech from start to end in the hours between 4am (the usual time I wake up with the weighty crash of all my problems slamming into me) and 6:30 when I actually got out of bed to a weak sun and an elated blue sky. I said it out of order and didn’t say part of it, I choked on my own words and couldn’t say anything for a long while while I looked at nothing, just felt the morning sun filling my eyes and my whole heart filling my mouth while he stared at me through his hair, which is getting really long these days, and waited for me.
I went to see one of my favorite bands on Sunday, which he recommended. I’m pretty sure my spot was better than his and I feel unreasonably victorious about it. I was in the absolute front, getting kneed in the face and jumping around and elbowing people and yelling the words to the songs that I have learned through repeated listening even though they’re in Japanese. They could have played forever and I’d have been happy. They should have played forever, because even though almost every song reminds me of him, they’re also my songs and when I yelled the lyrics with everyone else and clapped and stamped my feet on other people’s feet and had my feet (in new shoes!) stamped on by other people’s feet, it was my heart—the part that still belongs to only me—that was huge and buoyant and electric.
Before the show I had a moment where I speed drank outside of a Daily Yamazaki in Saitama and smoked two cigarettes and tried to remember how to breathe at the regular, prescribed rhythm. It felt right because that’s our convenience store, where we both buy the same 2 or 3 pastries in rotation before stopping to smoke in that little alley where I walked up to him in the sunlight and asked to talk to him, both of us coiling our earphones into our hands, his in his right mine in my left. For all I know, we were listening to the same music because we often are.
After the show, in the cosmic mirror of our lives we stood a couple of meters apart and smoked, him standing me sitting in a plant, exactly like we do every morning, very carefully not looking at each other. Something felt right about that, too, but it also made me feel like either throwing up or screaming, so I settled for chainsmoking because I’d lost my lighter in the mosh pit and had to beg a light off of someone and his friend, who perfectly mirrored the scene in Mystery Train where the black man asks the Japanese couple for a light.
He left and I left. I said what I had to say. We are so poor at communicating that we had to be separated during a volleyball match the other day and I fell for him in a foreign language, and he only knows me as I am in Japanese, but I finally found the words after searching and dreaming and punching a wall a couple of times. There’s a small scab on my left hand, and an older one on my right, shiny and pink.
There’s nothing to do now but grow up, and keep growing, but in the meantime I still have to sit next to him, and the way he runs both of his hands through his hair when it’s a bit too long, and the way he laughs which is different from how he always used to laugh with me and I don’t know what that means, and the way he scuffs his shoes in that particular way so I always know when it’s him walking by.