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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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?

Goodbye at Haneda-Airport

|Written by Sushilove51| Photo by T. Gouw |

 

“We’re becoming mortal. It’s us, being close to each other. It never happened this fast before. You have to leave. The further you get from me, the better you’re going to feel”

– Charlize Theron, Hancock Movie

 

Thousands of people walk to and from the Haneda-Airport. Some on time moving according to schedule and some are in a rush barely making it. Just like the McAllister family in the Home Alone movie.

Everyone has a journey and sometimes I wonder how nice it’d be if everyone would just stopped what they were doing and enjoyed life with each other. One of the tragic things about time on earth, is that our time is limited. Each of us are giving an unknown amount. With this in perspective, I hope to make an effort doing things I enjoy with the people I care for.

This day helped me realized this truth. Considering the circumstance.

Depending on what brings you to airport changes your entire body language. For instance, If you are going to see someone you love. You are all smiles you walk around like your at Disneyland, “The happiest place on earth”. Nothing will take you of this high.

But if you’re leaving someone behind it can be sadder than a cemetery visit. Which happened to be the case for me.

I didn’t want to fly. I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t care to travel. Even though, I’ve always considered myself a traveler. I used to want to see the world. Part of the reason I joined the military in the first place. I knew I’d be given the chance to see parts to the world I’ve wanted to go.

My second year in; I’ve traveled throughout the U.S., Mid-west, East Coast, and I was able to have great experiences like drinking a Pint of Guinness fresh from the tap at an Ireland pub. Speaking to people I barely understood. Only making out that there were giving off some good vibes. I met Jesus in Brazil as a statue called “Christ the Redeemer” who welcomed me with his arms spread open.

Then it all changed. The Traveling adventurer side of me disappeared. When I got stationed to Japan. All of a sudden I no longer felt the need to travel after I looked around, settled in and saw where I was at.

I realized a truth about myself. When I was traveling I must of not been doing it aimlessly like I thought I was. The curiosity I felt when I stepped of different airports and the happiness I felt when I looked around. Taking in all the new decor and the smiles from the friendly host. The curiosity was there because I was looking for something. Not sure what it was exactly but perhaps home.

While in Japan I felt a comfort I never knew. That’s when I had the epiphany and I see it more clear. I wasn’t traveling just to travel. I needed to find something. And that’s what happened when I moved to Japan. The perfect location and the person.

For the past two years me and here spent all our free time with each other. I was a busy young man serving in the Military. The training. The exercising. The war games. Still we made time for each other. This made the entire work cycle worth every minute. I would do it again. As long as I knew sometime during the week we would eventually get back to each other.

Imagine how I felt when we were at the airport knowing that I had to go to the Middle East for a year. It’s very cliché to say but we have to take the good with the bad. When we look at the situation at face value it was sad. She cried the whole way there up until we said goodbye. But then I got to see her cry. Which says a lot more than what anyone can express with words.

Watching her demeanor was bitter sweet. You know the military was easy for me. I may have gotten PTSD before I even joined. The environment I was raised in forced me to control my emotion, even withdraw because if I succumbed to the feeling that were necessary for the situation. I’m sure I would have cried my entire child hood.

Years later, I’m at an airport. It’s okay to be vulnerable because she is. She doesn’t care how she looks. All she cares about is that she wants me to come back safe. That’s up in the air it’s a mystery. Anything can happen in the Middle East. But, nothing is more dishonorable than a man who doesn’t fulfill his obligation. The military provided me with a chance to be better. Now it was time to fulfill my side of the deal.

Airports can the saddest/romantic places on earth. I needed a cigarette.

What was your hardest good bye?