I write this on the Shinkansen, the bullet train, going 300 km an hour. With my cheeks nearly flapping and the scenery whipping by me – mountains to farmland to a few houses to a small city and back to mountains – we are journeying away from Tokyo and away from our friends.
We spent two weeks with our gay BFFs and had a total blast being with them. Dave and I had hit a place on our trip where we (and I say this with love, and Dave would totally agree) needed a break from being just the two of us. It’s really hard to expect your significant other to replace the scores of friends, family, co-workers, gchat snarkers who you normally interact with on a daily basis. I am a serious extrovert and having only ONE PERSON to chat with was beginning to drain me. Dave was totally over my incessant chatting. If Dave had to hear ONE MORE WORD about my pink hair upkeep I think he’d probably throw himself in front of this train we are on. Why bother chatting? We practically had the same thought patterns. We might as well not even speak, sometimes.
We’d be walking down the street in Saigon and I’d be avoiding sidewalk potholes and absent-mindedly thinking about a certain Family Guy episode or something, and then Dave would ask “so…. Kat… have you heard about the bird?”, and I’d be like:
A) GET OUT OF MY HEAD.
B) UUGGHHHHHHHH. YES. HOWWWWWWWWWW
So, to have other people to talk to who think about OTHER THINGS! aside from Family Guy, when to turn left or right, stop here, do you have the key, where is your passport, are you sure it’s this way, remember that weird song we heard in Indonesia, remember that thing we ate that was alive, remember how sucky Melaka was in hindsight, aren’t you excited to leave asia, aren’t you sad to leave asia was really refreshing. Also they are real people with real lives and jobs. Fascinating, how quickly we’ve forgotten how to be real people. Southeast Asia warps your sense of reality really sharply. I am going to get punched in about five minutes when I get home and just remark upon someone within earshot like we do right now.
It was just so easy being with our friends. Like old times but also like new times? Also how did we all start speaking the same way instantly? Also they speak Japanese so they were not only their normal fun selves but also USEFUL. They knew cool places to take us. They told us cool places to go when they were out in the world being real people. They had fun friends we hung out with. Not having to be the decider about every minute detail of the day was restorative.
Also, being with urban family was so necessary. These friends of ours, we don’t really know when we’ll see again and we probably annoyingly were all up in their grills all the time because we felt like we needed to squash a year’s worth of fun into two weeks.
Most of the photos aren’t cute, which means we had a great time, right?
Let us suffice to say that we learned how to say “Beer Blast” in Japanese. Beer Blast is a daily open bar special at a friendly gay bar. Friendly in that I was the only lady there both times and BOTH TIMES someone told me I was pretty. #WIN
Also, for the uninitiated in the finer points of the Japanese language, it’s “Bir-u Blast-o”.
We drank all the things, watched the “Moey Shambin” SNL skit 400 times, ate awesome food, and laughed until our cheeks hurt.
We picnicked under cherry blossom trees, sang karaoke, and made fun of how Japanese manic pixie dreamgirls walk pigeon-toed because the think it’s quirky and cute.
We watched 40 episodes of Veronica Mars, ate the best sushi I have ever eaten, and made sinful pizzas.
We also hosted a Passover seder and leaned mightily to the left. Also I have a weird bruise on my knee.
I was like, hello?
The other fun thing about with our friends, was they have a great set up for guests. Their guest room was huge, and we had a dresser to put our clothes in. They also, magically, live in was that they dubbed “America Town”.
Once you got to their apartment complex which is full of Americans, you would know how to say “thanks” for someone holding the elevator for you. You could drink the tap water. I had a minor meltdown the first time I realized this was possible. and was like, “are you SURE?!”. THEY HAD A DRYER, with which I entered into a very real, emotional relationship. I would put clothes in the dryer and pat it affectionately. I COOKED. In their AMERICAN-style kitchen. I made my mother’s spaghetti and meatballs immediately. I made CARNITAS. For anyone who has been outside of America for long, even mediocre Mexican food is impossible to find. It needed to happen, or else. They had a French press and we had coffee every morning without having to leave the house or negotiate a language we do not speak. This was perhaps the greatest luxury of all: being able to caffeinate freely, to American rocket fuel standards. There was a STORE where they would come back with Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese. Frozen Pizzas. Tortillas. FIZZY WATER! WINE!!!!! WHERE YOU COULD PAY IN US DOLLARS!
Being surrounded by so many small, simple, American luxuries that I took for granted every day before this trip and that I had forgotten about for five months came rushing back and I was overwhelmed. I was achingly homesick yet also having more fun and felt more NORMAL than I had in weeks.
Also they have a dog, which meant we had a dog for two weeks.
I took her on many a walk and she even snoozed one night curled up under my legs and I exploded with the urgency of having a dog of my own. Once we get to Philly, find jobs, buy cars, get an apartment and become real adults. Small details, really.
It was really hard to leave. I walked with my back pack to the subway station from their house crying (I like to think) dignified, resolved tears behind my big sunglasses and huge backpack. We weren’t just leaving friends but we were leaving a brief respite in America and it was so easy and fun to be in Japan during the day or whatever and then America at night. I ATE CHEESE, for crying out loud.
But more importantly, we ate cheese with some of our favoritest people in the world. And we have more friend times with the rest of our International Urban Family (IUF) ahead too which I think may save us from our own ennui. Ok, kidding, just Dave’s. Friends like Brock and Josh are the bubbles in the Monica & Chandler champagne of life. Thanks, guys! xoxo