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2005-06-04 2:37 p.m.

follow up: don’t don’t don’t let’s start

Whoa. I’ve just been practicing guitar for twelve straight hours.

(If you’re following along in the script, this is where you would say, “Does sleeping with your guitar count as practicing?” And then I would say, “As long as you don’t drop it!”)

The father of one of my five high school kids died suddenly yesterday.

I’m back on the Rock now.

I saw WTF again on Wednesday. We spent about three hours together before my ship sailed. It went well. Somehow she and I are at ease together. We are ourselves when we are together, and as we get used to each other we only become more so. We had a lovely time.

She is so beautiful. Every time I see her I’m surprised by it; she’s always more beautiful than I remembered. One of the physical highlights of the ideal Asian woman is beautiful silky black hair, but I see very few women over here who really have that kind of hair. She does. I want to drown myself in it.

She also had just a hint of glitter around her eyes and temples, like a whisper of something magical waiting to be uncovered.

She wrote me another letter. I spent most of my spare time yesterday and the day before reading that and the other. Which wasn’t exactly easy. It was really more like deciphering than reading. For one, she writes her letters in a stream of consciousness style. Actually I kind of like that, but she has a tendency to circle around and around a point and then move on without ever actually making it, leaving me to wonder if it was me who missed it or her. Also, she doesn’t formally write out her kanji. She just kind of scribbles off a suggestion of a kanji and moves on. That might not be such a huge problem for a Japanese reader, really. I mean, even in English, vn f y rmv ll th vwls y cn stll knd f ndrstnd t. But a non-native speaker is less likely to be able to make sense of that. Reading her letters I often found myself trying to guess from context what a given “kanji suggestion” was likely to be and then looking up my various guesses until settling on a match. Though trying to count strokes was only marginally useful, in some cases I could make out the main radical and then scan lists of kanji containing that radical until I settled on a match. Fun times. I got through it, though. It was kind of a pain, but certainly good practice. All in all, she wrote me twelve pages. And apparently there’s another letter in the works.

Anyway, it seems I completely misread the situation. Or rather, most of my first impressions were actually correct, and my later reevaluations turned out to be wrong. (Though my very first impression, that she wanted to be left alone, was definitely not on target. I was right to second guess that one.) Most people I can get a read on pretty quick, but her… I never seem to be quite sure what she’s thinking and feeling.

A major new piece of information is that I was totally wrong about her age. I don’t quite know how it happened, but I remember very well the shock I felt at learning what I had thought was her age and how I reconfirmed it several times to make sure that was really what she meant and that I hadn’t just suddenly forgotten Japanese 101. But apparently I had. Perhaps she thought we were talking about something else, though what we were actually talking about I can’t imagine. I’m going to have to stop telling people that I speak Japanese, since this makes it quite obvious that I don’t. Oh well. Not being afraid of making (huge, momentous) mistakes is one of the hallmarks of a good foreign language student…

Anyway, it turns out that she is younger than I am (by about 18 months). Knowing this, some things about her make a lot more sense. The fact that she definitely looks, walks, and dresses like someone of that age, for instance. But knowing this, some things make a lot less sense. The fact that she has only a tenuous grasp of modern technology and pop culture, for instance. I mean, how many twenty-four year olds do you know who don’t have an email address? WTF?

This, of course, totally revolutionizes the way I think about her. As opposed to being someone with at least a decade more life experience than me, she actually has less. She is, after all, just a child, like me.

The first part of the first letter was pretty straight forward. But at the end she got confessional. At one point she launched into a speech that has several points in common with the lyrics to Hurt. She also said a lot of stuff that reminds me of things Duchess used to say to me… It was eight pages long.

Anyway, I had burned a copy of the dance mix for her (the idea of burning a mix CD was also totally foreign to her). The second letter, which was four pages long, started out with a song by song response to that. She’s totally obsessed with this Japanese band called B’z (pronounced “beez” or “beezu”), and the only CDs she owns are by them. She told me that she was shocked when she heard “Twiggy Twiggy” by Pizzicato Five as it was the first time she had ever heard a female vocalist on a CD. (WTF?) Her comment on “Come On Eileen” was that it sounds “like a lot of insects among flowers” (hana no mawari ni takusan no mushi ga iru kanji). That is awesome.

Next came a long section containing what may very well be the most beautiful words anyone has ever written about me. These are the words of someone who’s spent a great deal of time watching and thinking about me, of someone who knows words and how to use them. Very flattering, and very touching. You see… I think I am the shit. I think I’m a great guy. I really do. However, I don’t expect others to share my opinion, and I recognize that what I have to offer isn’t necessarily what every woman is looking for. And so, when someone comes along who does appreciate what I have to offer, who likes about me what I like about myself… I’m always (pleasantly) surprised. The last cell phone email she sent me was also filled with highly positive appraisals of our time together. So either she really likes me and has seen in me what most people never bother to look for, or she’s a very cunning sycophant. Here’s hoping for the former.

So, yes. It seems evident now that she likes me. Like LIKE likes. There was no kissyface, however, and contrary to expectations the letters didn’t really make her stance on that clear. Reading between the lines, though, I’d say she wanted to but is either too shy to say it or just isn’t ready for that yet.

Actually, I’m in no rush. Partly because some aspects of this worry me a bit. The Hurt Speech, for instance. While putting yourself down and categorically rejecting compliments is the norm in Japanese culture, she really takes it to the extreme. I’m not sure what that means. I’m idealistic enough to believe that a devoted and supportive lover can help a person’s self-confidence and self-esteem into bloom, but I’m realistic/experienced/cynical enough to know not to hold my breath waiting for it to happen. Something about her reminds me of almost every other woman I’ve been seriously involved with. Especially Duchess, who had very similar “issues,” and Little Wing, who is also a charming eccentric. To be quite honest, I’m a little tired of playing therapist and cheerleader to one girl after another, all to no avail. Do I really want to go down that road again?

i feel like i’ve been here before
i know this room; i’ve walked this floor

I say I want a tigress. I say I want a girl with a mind like a diamond. I keep finding myself with kittens, girls with minds like flowers. Is it because, despite what I say, that’s what I really want? Or do I just somehow draw these people to me? Are there confident, self-assured women out there somewhere? And even if there are, can they play as nicely as these with the child in me?

Perhaps I should forbear where this one is concerned, but somehow I don’t think I will. When I’m with her, it just fits somehow, in a way that goes beyond the differences in our interests, aptitudes, and native languages. To once again rip off someone else’s words (E.B. White, I think), being with her is like holding a live hummingbird in my hand. She is beautiful, unique, charming, thoughtful, expressive, kind, considerate, and sensitive. She is uncertain, lost, and lonely.

you’re the kind of a girl a guy like me can hypnotize
and if this comes as a surprise
just think of all those guys who will tell you lies
i want to spin my little watch right before your eyes

I will be completely honest with her, of course. I will have to tread carefully here. It’s obvious that she has a heart of glass, and I get the feeling she’s about to throw at it me, yelling “Catch!”

She says she may move to Beppu (in Oita Prefecture) this summer in order to study. While Beppu isn’t exactly close to here, it’s a hell of a lot closer than Kyoto. Fukuoka, where I tend to end up at least once a month, is probably about halfway between here and there.

I will return to the U.S. for graduate school in one year. That is not open to debate, any more than coming to Japan in the first place was. I could never forgive myself if I didn’t at least give it the college try. I owe all my oldest hopes and dreams that much, at least.

all i know is i gotta be
where my heart says i oughtta be
it often makes no sense, in fact
i never understand these things
i feel

Though I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to bringing someone back with me.

no one in the world ever gets what they want
and that is beautiful
everyone dies frustrated and sad
and that is beautiful

not everybody’s out to score,