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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Children of the Rising Sun |Part One|

|By Sushilove51 | Photo by T. Donsho |

“Love your neighbor”

– Jesus

 

Prof. Jen taught me most of my first two years in college. Going to a U.S. College overseas there’s not much choice. The base tends to hire teachers with a million degrees and able to teach multiple subjects.

This wasn’t a problem for me. I liked Jen’s style. She was a smiley free-spirit who brought M & M’s to class. What’s not to like? Since we had to spend three hours a day, for two days a week. We could only hope for a little bit of fun.

There were rumors that some Professors were so boring students would fail just to end the misery. These stories made me feel lucky to have Jen. Not only was she easy to get along with but was also professional. Yes, at times the lectures went off course. They were fruitful nonetheless.

She spoke of her dreams, her travels, and her dance school. And in the end the whole class got A’s.

It was good to hear from a woman who dreamed big and got to see them come to life. It’s nice to know someone who was rewarded well due to the level of risk taken. Overall she sent a good vibe that flowed throughout our class room.

We had a lot of breaks that were used perfectly like a good coach uses a time out for there team to re-group. Maybe we showed a face that showed it was time. This allowed  students to get into some good conversation with each other. We mostly talked about upcoming events.

There was a musician who was planning on making a music video. He was always looking for someone who wanted to be a part of the them.

“Hey dude, you should show up. We all hang out, then get sushi afterwards”

“I don’t know, I appreciate the invite but I got some things to do”.

I would be tempted to go but wouldn’t be 100% sure about the decision. After all I’ve partied for a majority of my life. I figured it was time to head to another direction.

One guy did get my attention and showed me the way when he mentioned the annual event his squadron throws. A party at a near by orphanage. They serve American Style BBQ, brings gifts, talk and play with the children. Something in me lit up when I heard about it all. I wanted to be a part of it.

An Orphan must carry a heavy burden with them. These are children who have been abandoned or separated from their relatives somehow to live in a strange home with other kids. I guess I felt it was time. I didn’t have too much. But, what I did have I wanted to give.

That weekend I took the invite and brought some friends who I thought would be interested in tagging along. Friends with the right priorities. In the military some people do things like visiting orphanages with selfish motives. They do it for the bullets (highlights of experience) that military members type on these performance reports in hopes to further their career. I wanted to go with those whose motives were pure and had a genuine emotion to care. Other wise the trip would of felt tainted.

I remember the moment I walked in those doors holding bags of food and soda. The kids greeted us with loud pitches of excitement. Big Smiles. Happy that we’d come to visit. They’d stare at us with a look that revealed there gratitude. Maybe we symbolized hope to them. Hope that since  foreigners came to give presents and spend time with them that one day this would happen permanently one day.

The kid’s ages ranged from 4-18. The majority of them being younger. Only a few were actually 13 and up. I remember a little 5 year who ran up to me as soon as my arms let go the bags of food I carried. He wanted to be picked up. This only was after 20 minutes of walking in. I gave him a high five. But, my heart turned into mash potatoes when I saw how bad he wanted to be held. He desired affection. Just for a moment. He wanted to feel loved. I didn’t want to fail him. So I carried him and told the caretakers he was very playful kid. They remarked that he’s always been this way.

This made me wonder where his parents were and why he was here. If this was my son I don’t know if I could go a day without giving or receiving that affection. It’s energizing to see someone on earth who just wants your affection and in return you give it the same. No cost. I don’t think he even budged when the food was being served. He just wanted to play games with the foreigners. A similar pattern with the other children as well.

The girls were getting their hair braided by the women. And the other men were playing catch with the little guys. Reading stories to them. Teaching them dance moves. Enjoying each other’s company.

Later, I find out these kids have survived some tragedies. Abusive homes, homes with low income that couldn’t maintain. Homes that weren’t happy. Homes that weren’t healthy. Life isn’t fair. I only hope that one day these children see glory.

Are there injustices you see in the world you want to fix?