My cousin Randy drove me to the Indo consulate on the morning of my departure from Los Angeles, and true to his word, Agung had my passport and visa ready to hand over. Without it, I would never have made my flight to Tokyo 2 hours later. I was intending to knock myself out with the pillbox lobotomy that my mom gave me but because my brother had arranged a speaking engagement at his school, I elected to not medicate. I never sleep well on planes unless I dope myself. I once transferred at Heathrow and flew on to Edinburgh, Scotland with no recollection except for the wonderment of where all this drool came from.
It was a long flight and I was beat. My brother Skinny hugged me, hoisted half of my overstuffed luggage, and whisked me off to the trains. Our 3 month separation had ended. 2 hours and a few platforms later, we were exchanging shoes for slippers and bowing to his bosses. I gave a slide show about my sailing adventure to 100+ people while Skinny punctuated my commentary with magic tricks. Does it sound surreal? It was. We were paid $180 and then hauled my luggage back to Tigerland (his jungle habitat with sliding rice paper doors and an internal pond with waterfall).
I had a date with Motoko. I met her when I was there the last time. She lives in Tokyo but was born and raised in Hiroshima. I should have left that subject alone, but, well, you know me; if there’s a scab, I just have to pick it. I asked her about her ancestors and the war. It seems we vaporized her whole family and only her grandmother survived. Can you imagine the uncomfortable silence that followed? The date ended early.
Jet lag comes in handy in a 24 hour city like Tokyo because one can party like a rock star. With the time differences, it makes sense for one to sleep all day and stay up all night. That turned out to be the case for me and my memories end with karaoke, conveyor belt sushi, and calling it quits when the sun rose. Somewhere in that haze of late hours and too many Asahis, I do recall I found it endlessly entertaining to ask, with a concerned look on my face, “Where is the safest place to be when Godzilla attacks?”
The night before we left for Korea, it was sleep deprivation on a par with passage making. The next day, I recall a montage of perfume girls at the airport with their artificially high helium voices touting their fragrances, and salary men and office ladies scurrying for their flights. I’ve never seen so many Betty Page hairdos.
4 days in Tokyo, a reunion of brothers, and a campaign of self abuse. We left for more of the same, as we flew to Seoul, South Korea.
That’s coming up next,