Calls Home from Japan| Part One |

|By Sushilove51 | Photo by | J. Wilburne|

“I can’t remember anything without you”

-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

*I know “K”. She’s special to me. Even so, I always wonder. As I bite into a piece of Sushi. How perfect it’d be if my brother were at the table. I remember our talks*

“I love you Bro” I said to him.

“Listen, man that’s too much” he’d say swiftly.

“Later, Then”

“But, for the record, I love you Big Bro!”

That’s how our conversations ended. It was easy showing affection over the phone. I don’t think we could tell our feelings face-to-face. I imagine it lighting up the world with awkwardness.

5,000 miles of ocean apart from each other had an effect on our brotherhood.  The tone in our speech carried a more caring sound. Compare that to the times we wanted to kill each other. Fighting and Punching. Promising we’d never forgive. We could never keep the promise.

If the sunrise brought an argument. The sunset we’d laugh about it. Near the beach side with a chilled beer. In our teens staring at the ships with blackened eyes. This carousel of ours was chaotic. Nevertheless, I cherished it. The fights were welcomed. It seemed as if the harder we did, the more we forgave, the more we loved and proved to each other that we were solid.

Remembering the hardships of youth is something I try not to do. I could cry over those details. Instead, I look at the good of it all. The fact we survived. He was there always by my side. If he wasn’t I’m not sure if I would have. I told him about all my hurt. I listened to his. We would get through it.

I’ve heard others comment on our relationship claiming that he was the lucky one. They saw me and the way I cared for him. The truth is that I needed him more than he’d ever need me. I was always the sensitive one. He could turn it off. Escape from the pain mentally. I felt it all, I over thought about everything. The moments that warmed hearts and the ones that broke them.

I remember driving thru Los Angeles traffic when we had conversation about our futures. That sort of turned prophetic. We had just left a military recruitment office. I had just made a verbal agreement to join. When this happened we knew that our tandem would never be the same. Even as we talked about it getting stronger.

We started by recapping those years we spent trying to find our place in the West. Journeying together trying to follow through with our plans. We slept at our friends’ houses, studio homes, cars, couch garages.

We ate off the dollar menu, church fellowships, random Barbecue’s and birthday parties. We laughed and had a ball. Unforgettable memories at the boardwalk, laying on the beach. The smell of fresh paint from Graffiti. The sound of connecting a punch. Our foolishness. The temptations and giving in to them. Nothing from that life was sustainable. No one could live that way forever. It had to end eventually. Never land was a fairy tale.

The drive thru L.A. brought a feeling that this was the end. We never saved enough to get our own place. There were times when we did have money for a lease. But, who knows where it all went. The only evidence we have are Polaroid’s of those forgotten nights.

“It’s good that you’re joining. I going to work out Bro”. He said to me.

I reminded him that he would be next. As soon as he lost the weight.

“Yeah, I’m getting a head start. You’re coming too” I reminded him.

“It’s awesome thinking about the places we’ll see” He added

“Who knows?, Italy, Hawaii, Somewhere in Europe, Poland!” I guessed.

That’s when he made his prophecy.

“No, I have a feeling exactly where we’ll be. Japan! I know it!”

He guessed right. He said this months before I graduated Basic Training.

Remembering that conversation seemed like he knew the future or that he was used as a vessel to reveal it. Or a lucky guess. Whatever it might be. I look at it as a bridge that gave me peace throughout our separation. I often think about that car ride years later. Believing that I’m on the right path.

When I first arrived to Japan I called him every other day. To motivate him. To remind him. We have a plan. We’ll travel the world and get a home. But things changed. It got harder to get a hold of him. We would talk every other week. Then every two weeks. Then months. Then I began to look at it as something we couldn’t control. It was inevitable that life was separating us.

I think in the middle of our two years together we knew someday this would happen. The times we had with each other was to be enjoyed. One day it would never be the same. It will never be like it is. And it never was. He never lost the weight to join the military. Every time we spoke about life he never seemed interested in the idea. He would always tell me about some odd job he was working at the time instead of getting into shape.

*An epiphany came*

Looking back at all the partying. I began to think if we were always like this. Had I been too intoxicated not to notice? The signs seemed clear now.

Our parties would be the biggest mixture of people. A bunch of people with different personalities, diversity and would not normally blend. But our relationship helped bring everyone together in the same place.

He befriended a different crowd, the rough-type. People who fight with the club’s bouncer. The people who smoked weed like it was the air they breathed.

I, seemed to be attracting different people. College students, people who had goals to pursue. People who didn’t punch bouncers. People who thought I could be in a better situation.

Our crowds always started in fun until the drama would happen. Someone from his crowd would say or do something. My crowd got offended. Bottles would fly. Yelling could be heard and cars would drive away. We’d all separate.It was insane to think. A few days later we’d do the same thing. I never felt more awake. Maybe it was the love. I wanted us to work. I wanted my brother and I to live our lives together.

I remember calling home from Japan one day and no one answering. I sensed something was wrong. I tried every other day but still no answer. Weeks had passed then finally I got someone.

My brother’s girlfriend picked up the phone. She had a sweet voice. But no matter how nice it was her voice couldn’t soften the blow of the bad news. She explained to me that my brother had gotten arrested. I won’t go into details about it. But he was currently sitting in a jail facing felony charges.

This meant a lot of things for me. One of them meant he just dropped himself out of our military dreams. There was no way that he could get in. The standards wouldn’t allow a felon.

Sometimes I think if I could have done more to prevent it. Sushi and Sake is lovely. But, I want my brother to enjoy it with me.

I’m always hoping for another way.

 

  Do you love someone you have to be away from?

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Learn Japanese with Tinder

| By Sushilove51 | Photo by R. Angelo |

“I just want to say hi to my girlfriend, OK! yo Adrian! It’s me. Rocky “

-R. Balboa

 

“Itaidoshin” is a Japanese proverb that means “different body, same mind”.

I understand the message as similar to a well-known American saying, “birds of a feather”. We all know how natural it feels to connect with a person whom you experience “Itaidoshin”.

I write this to talk about a co-worker of mine. In the short amount of time we’ve known each other. We’ve soon became brothers. Mostly because, life has molded our personalities the same way. Grown up on the West Coast, Joined the U.S.A.F.,Gym Rats, Hot Sauce Connoisseurs.

Then add to that we have the same sense of humor. In which, alone can bring people closer than super glue. It’s the dry cement of relationships.

With all this been said, There is an area of our lives we are completely different.

That is our relationship with women. I’ve always been into the long-haul enjoying the pleasure of building something with. I know guys my age ask “Don’t I get bored”. But, I’ve always thought different. There’s a special type of fruit that comes from it.

It’s probably a personality trait I have or a mental dysfunction for me to enjoy the chaos of it all.

Growing together there are times we tire and irritate each other for no reason. One moment will be magical. Sipping sake on a beach towel in the middle of nowhere. The next moment will be a hardship. Making us wonder if our love will die. I like this pocket of tension, right there where the smoke is. Nothing feels better than standing still when it clears.

He on the other hand, plays the field, and has a girl in prefectures all over the country. At work he makes the shift pass smoothly by sharing his experiences and telling me where he meets them. One of those being Tinder. I know this is pretty popular among singles but I’ve never had to deal with this. Having been in a long term relationship for so long I never considered it.

He explained to me that the process is simple to start. You create a profile, Post a picture and your ready to go. Look at other profiles, Once you see a profile that attracts you. You swipe right. If it doesn’t attract you then you swipe left. He even said that he’s found some people to practice Japanese with it. This part intrigued me the most. It wasn’t all about hooking up or finding love. Some people just wanted to find groups and hang out with people who had the same interest.

This sparked the writer/journalist inside me. I wanted to explore and know how all of this works. I wanted to document it. So I did. I of course, gave myself some rules. Like not meeting up with them. And keep the conversation light and not try to lead anyone on. I was faithful to the relationship I was in. And this is how it went over the course of Four days.

tinder blog

Day One

     I created a profile with honest information. I didn’t make a catfish account. I wanted to use my real name, photos, purpose, and hobbies. To get the real experience. And I made up my mind to keep it just over text. I wasn’t going to meet anyone. Also, my profile had an emphasis that my goal was to learn the Japanese language better.

The first day. I learned that your given 50 swipes to choose which profiles you like. I used ten the first day. After about a couple of hours. I didn’t get anyone who matched with me. I wondered if the profile needed more touch so I googled tips on how to make it better.

-More than one picture or people think it’s fake.

-crisp, clear, bio

I wanted to know if people where alerted all the time. But the rules are that once you swipe or are swiped. You are given 24 hours for them to swipe you back in order for the two of you to match. The first night I didn’t get anything.

But, I got a little message that said someone had liked my profile. But it said that I had to subscribe to Tinder Gold so I could see who did it. It cost about five dollars a month. To me this sounded like a trick to get you to subscribe. I’m not coming from a place of desperation and I wasn’t going to behave that way. Investing any amount of money was a no-go. I also read an article that said if you aren’t getting matches with the free account what’s the point of paying just to get extra swipes.

Day Two

I woke up that morning. Opened up the Tinder App and noticed that I finally got two matches.

A whole entire day?I know I could go to a shopping mall or the beach and get a match quicker than that.

Well anyways, Back to the matches. Logistically speaking one lady was pretty far from me. And the other was almost in the same neighborhood. I wrote to both of them the same message.

“Hajimemashite” which translates to “Nice to meet you”

One of them messaged me within a couple hours. We began to text and I found out she was a traveler from Taiwan looking for locals in the area that wanted to explore the city or could show her around. I told her that I wouldn’t be available for a couple of weeks. But, I guess she didn’t read my bio about only wanting to study Japanese.

The other person was younger 19. She was more interested in someone speaking English to her. Although, I think she quickly lost interest. After a few texts back and forth. She didn’t message me until the fourth day. But, I understand how it is at that age. Having a low attention span and being on this app. She may have had her time divided with a lot of other users. I, on the other hand began to realize that I may not be good for this. I don’t know if I had the luxury of having so much time to waste.

I swiped a couple more times that night.

 

Day Three

     The next day. I had two more matches. One of them I matched up was a “super-like” option. I guess it makes them stand out. Because it wasn’t an ordinary swipe. They wanted to let you know that they really liked what they saw.

The traveler from Taiwan messaged me and said she was no longer in the area. Later that night it said her location was thousands of Kilometers away. So she was on her own adventure. The other girl didn’t respond yet.

The two new matches were pretty interesting to say the very least. The first one was 25. The one who super liked me. If she looked like she did in the profile picture. She was beautiful and I texted her the standard “Nice to meet you” But I didn’t hear from her immediately.

The other profile was very weird. Everything was in Japanese but I used google translate to understand what the profile said. It was a Pirukura style. (A Japanese photo booth where they make the people look like Anime characters.) There were two girls standing side by side. And message said this.

“This is a double account. The girl on the left and the girl on the right.

We don’t have time to message back.

But, on our free time. The girl on the left or the girl on the right will meet you where you are.”

*If that wasn’t the scariest messaged I’ve seen*

Later in the day, I had another match. Now this made me realize for sure that I wasn’t made for this. I have too much going on in my life to add Tinder in. It’s almost like another chore having to stop what I’m doing with work, my college classes, my lady, my gym time, going out with friends, to have to converse with a stranger every now and then. It takes me out of my rhythm. And I had to re-calibrate over and over again.

Day Four

     The photo you see up above is from the fourth day. I had four more matches and it said 3+ people have liked your profile. But, it hadn’t shown there profile yet. After all this I’ve yet to meet someone who wanted to practice Japanese with me. The girl who super liked me messaged me and with an exclamation point said nice to meet me as well. The girl from Day two who didn’t message me finally responded. But said something simple like “How Nice”. I forgot what that conversation was about. I don’t think I’m going to message the recent matches. Because I may not hear there response until way further into the week. I thought it felt good that a lot of people wanted to connect with me. But, I don’t have the time to give anyone my time or well thought out responses. This is exhausting. And it takes me away from Blogging something that I enjoy doing.

Conclusion

I shared this information with my lady and she thought it was interesting. Not in a bad way. Or at least she hasn’t really spoken her mind about it. But, like I said hardships refine relationships. We will be gold in no time.

 

 Has anyone tried internet dating? If so, How did your experience go?

 

Sunrise at Lawsons

|Written by Sushilove51| Photo on pexels.com |

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”

– Wayne Gretsky

 

*Staring out a window with bulletproof glass I have a flashback*

A twenty-year old me. Ten-pounds lighter. Ten-times more curious. Facial expression wore the twinkle of a kid at Disney Land.

Today marked a full year in the military. A reason for celebration. However, we would have celebrated anyways. Just be out and about. To live abroad you begin to realize how free you are. When the locals join your company for fun. Come all who are weary. Let’s dance like you do when no ones around.

On Friday nights we were always out past the twilight hours. The usual company of Rodgers, Reyes and some friends from the Medical squadron. One of which couldn’t hold there alcohol this night and had to call it in early.

I remember the Sake Bombs…the vomit…the slip on the steps…the Emergency phone call.

We had to part ways from our friends at the Medical squadron. Twenty minutes later.

We got a text that read:

“Everything’s okay. the night was fun. see you next week”

Young and resilient. It was routine we still had our lessons to learn. Driving towards the base. We were currently in a part of the country we’ve never strayed. Yet no fear had been felt. I was comfortable as if I cruised through my home town. Japan’s atmosphere makes you feel like everything’s under control.

The party had ended. But, our heads still looped the music we heard during the night. As Rodgers drove down the dark road. We were heading into my favorite time of day. When the sun starts to rise. Emotions start to lava out. For some odd reason this time period always does. I can’t it explain it. I just take advice from The Beatles and “Let it be”.

But if I could take a stab at the feeling. It’s comparable to accomplishing a feat. There’s a sense of satisfaction from making it to see the morning. No matter what may have happened prior good or bad has been washed away. Naturally, the world freshens up. Or I may have watched too many vampire movies. Where the sun rising signals that you’ve survived the night.

Rodgers drove and was adamant on not letting people smoke in his car. He saw all the commercials about second hand smoking as a kid and developed a phobia about it. He acted as if he would die instantly once the smoke touched him. I didn’t want to be rude. I didn’t mind stepping outside for a smoke.

We were approaching a Lawson’s and I could go for a coffee to compliment my cigarette. The best part about Japan is the consistency of each town. Everything looks familiar even if you’re somewhere far away. Lawson’s is a convenience store and it lives up to the word convenience. They built them wherever you’d want one.

In a moments notice we pulled up. Out of courtesy I added to my shopping list some rice balls. Salmon Filling, and gave them to my buddies in the car as they waited. He grabbed them and enjoyed. I walked over to the smoke pit outside the store. And so does a girl.

Her eyes and mine meet. Give each other a nod but we never converse. My Japanese wasn’t good enough at the time to carry a conversation. Also my energy was too low. Even with the coffee. So instead we stand there. Each enjoying our cigarettes. The time is 0410 and there the sun rises more.

The brighter it gets the prettier she looks. She has that delicate look. Style with her modern chic. She could be beautiful in any era. In any life. In any universe. She finishes her cigarette and heads to towards her car. Looks at me again and gives a little bow good bye. I wave back bye.

Someone else is in her car waiting for her almost exactly like my friends are. I get back to Rodger’s car. He looks at me and says.

“Not one word, You didn’t say hi to her?”

“Nope”

“You two where best of friends last weekend”

*I did know her*

At the parade. That’s the same girl. We were drank heavy that night. Celebrating a festival. Us together looked like the beginning of something special.  The appearance was wrong. We never reached our potential. That night was only a moment. Still I ask myself if it was too late? She’s away now but it’s okay. I learned to remember It’s meant to be. Roses will bloom.

We stood at the same spot and I couldn’t remember her. It’s like my memory was erased. I wish we could be together like that night. Alcohol can make the night more fun at the risk of forgetting what happened.

Is there a person or people you still think about years later?

Night Shift at Aomori

|Written by Sushilove51 | Photo by A. Chandra|

“Funny thing is I used to stay up all night and called it Fun”

– unknown author

 

I know there’s a stigma about working the night shift. It isn’t good for your health. It isn’t natural your body wants you to be tucked away in bed. Still, despite all of this. I’ll always prefer Nights to Day and wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m not sure as to why. Except for the tranquility I feel during those late hours.

It may be a useless talent of mine that has developed over time. By “Useless Talent” I’m piggy-backing of the theory mentioned in that Tarantino film, “Planet Terror”. It was said during a dialogue between the character Dr. Dakota to a patient.

“You know, my girlfriend had a theory. She said at some point in your life, you find a use for every useless talent you ever had. It’s like connecting the dots.”

Having grown up in Southern California. Very close to Mexico. I’ve partied very frequently since the age of 15. (All you really needed was $15 and a fake id.) While I was up at any hour who knew that I was possibly training my body to be ready for the graveyard shift.

It’s not something you can put on your resume. Word-for-Word. You have to spice it up. Instead, of saying something like.

“I’m able to rock out for 48 hours straight”

You can instead say “I’m able to give 110% working long hours on any shift”

like I said, “Spice”.

When the time for our base’s deployment exercise came around. I’d gotten tasked as a Guard to work the Night Shift. This connected the dots of my useless talents to other useless talents I had.

I remembered every time I spent sitting in a garage watching movies with buddies. Kind of what a guard does. In the sense that you sit on your butt and are required to be alert for long period of time. (Of course, credit the fact that your head is on a swivel ready for bad guys.)

Who knew that chit-chatting about random topics like who has the best crossover in the NBA, The law of attraction or the benefits of wheat grass. In front of Soda, Monster energy drinks, and McDonald’s would someday give me the skills I needed for a future career.

I looked around and thought that life has started to get better. Deciding to stick around has finally started to pay off. I wouldn’t let nothing ruin the good news I’d been giving. Even if I had to work it alongside someone with one of the worst reputations.

To me he wasn’t all that bad.  He was from Sudan. Had a very Sudanese name. However, was preferred to be called Matthew. I assume he was tired from American guys mispronouncing it. I knew him from Basic Training. I’ve always thought he was an “all right” guy. But then again we didn’t really speak a lot to each other. A lot of the other guys avoided him like a wild fire.

One of the reasons was his Temperament. They said he didn’t know how to take a joke. It was said that whatever was said to him he took very personal. And taking everything people say to you personal can get your feeling hurt a lot in the military.

Since, most of the Leadership are straight shooters when it comes to talking and they could care less about your feelings. For example: if we are exercising and someone’s not fit enough and slowing everyone else down. None of them will baby you. Instead, You’ll more than likely hear leadership say.

“Hey fat ass, you should start throwing up after you eat. Then you’ll finally make the run time”.

Also, Americans participate in the Art of roasting. Which by definition is insulting your fellow man for fun. And when it comes to roasting I believe there aren’t any safe zones. It’s pretty much open season for everyone. But, to Matthews credit this is something you have to kind of grow up in to get used to.

The other main reason no one wanted to work with him was because of his smell. Which I admit was an acquired kind of off putting. Back in Training school, we stayed on the same floor and you knew which room he stayed in by that pungent, combo that could be confused with hamster cage hay and ripe onions.

If he said that he was growing onions in his room. I could imagine people saying, “Oh it makes perfect sense”.

Instead people said “Bro, you smell like crap. Did you take a shower?”

I admit this would make me want to get out of guarding a post for 12 hours with him. But, it didn’t bother me so much. Because, since I got to Japan. I had the worst allergies of my life. My skin would flare up and get red. I would wheeze when I went to sleep. And, I was immune to the smell because my sinus where always stuffed. I wouldn’t be able to smell the gun smoke if I fired a rifle. Everything was okay.

As far as how Matthew’s personality. I’m the type of person who tries to understand. And if he was sensitive I wasn’t going to try to bother him. I didn’t need to roast him. He’s probably had enough of a hard time coming to America from Sudan and all. I had no problem with him.

One top of everything. The Supervisor said we’d be guarding the exit gate on the West Side. This was easiest task. When you’re guarding the exit gate your required to do nothing but sit there, couple radio checks and grab your binoculars every now and then. And whenever they simulate a Chemical Attack you can pretend to put a Gas Mask while the guards at the Entrance gate have to actually have it on for hours at a time. Running around like toddlers while the Training Instructors are evaluating their every move. But, who knows maybe I would have been happy either way. Looking at the bright side might be another useless talent being put to use.

*The day our shift started*

We sat there two men making a living sitting down, chit-chat about random topics. In front of Coke, Monster energy drinks and McDonald’s. All my life I thought that this was just a Useless Talent. Well, past negative thoughts. Look at me now because It can’t be that useless if it puts food on the table.

During our shift Matthew and I converse about life experiences but after about two hours in there is only so much that we can talk about. Until the two of us start to get tired. We retreat to our books or magazine.

*Three hours later* Matthew starts to giggle.

I question him out of curiosity. “What’s so funny man? you read something good?”

Out of nowhere Matthew says, “You know the guys at work like to joke around a lot”.

“Yeah, nothing like a good laugh” I respond.

“Yeah, it’s very different from where I’m from”

“How so?”

“It’s a sign of aggression to make fun of someone the way they do it” Matthew says sternly.

“Really?”

“Yes, and you don’t want to start fights where I’m from…Because we’re I’m from we fight until the death”.

I just nodded along, and thought to myself. “Wow, this got uncomfortable fast” I pulled out my book. And decided not to talk the rest of the shift. because I wasn’t ready to die nor to kill. I was just looking forward for time to pass. Not out of fear of him. But more so we can get into my favorite time period.

It begins at 0400 and ends around 0445 this is when the sun starts to rise.

To me there is something, “magical” about this time period. I know that once I’m here I get this burst of energy. Everything feels more calm. Everyone gets calm. The wind isn’t moving. The air seems to feel fresher. I think about a new beginning. And the inability to articulate words to convey the beauty of it all.

I just learned accept that you don’t need it. All the understanding of why something is enjoyable. I have to tell myself “How about you just enjoy the mystery”.

Then another memory comes to mind. I smile about it. Even if it’s kind of sad because it’s a story of wasted opportunity. And not much can irk a person’s soul worse. There’s that sense of regret of saying the wrong words or not saying anything at all.

Then all that’s left is hope. The hope that something better will come. A better chance. Your life’s Destiny.

 

Are there any talents you thought were useless but a moment they became useful?