One of the best things about being unemployed (or as I like to refer to it: funemployed) and hitchhiking in Japan is meeting people. I found that since I moved to Tokyo I had lost the part of me which woke up everyday amazed that I was living in a foreign country, and the first time I didn’t open my eyes thinking to myself, “Damn, I’m in Japan!” that something was wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, Tokyo is exciting and glittery and full of great people, but it’s a big city, and as big cities go they are pretty much the same all across the world. Like Mary Schmich famously said, “Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.” So, I am leaving before it makes me hard and traveling, not expecting anything at all.
It’s at these times, when you least expect it, as they say, that things tend to happen. You wander around. You go into strange cafes, shops and peruse the esoterica of different cultures. You eat and drink strange and delicious things. You meet people.
I tend to meet more women than men, though I wouldn’t categorize myself as a woman’s or a man’s man (if I had to I would say the same thing when I was asked in the third grade, “I’m a good speller.”), but somehow it just happens. The inevitable eye contact, the nod and smile. No expectations.
Let’s just have a drink together and you can show me around this place you call your town. Ok?
By the way, I’m going to take your photo, I hope you don’t mind.
Don’t worry about it…you look beautiful in this light.
If you insist.
I most certainly do. Let’s go get some sushi and beers.
It usually goes something like that. But sometimes it goes farther and I have a kind of personal access to these beautiful strangers that is akin to a psychologist with a patient. They open up to me, they smile and act coy, they come running up to you like puppies at the door, they hide and seek, they pose and croon in awe, they trust you and open up their humanity and all you do is try to show that honest power inherent in every molecular flicker of energy swirling around the galaxy trying to make sense of all the infinite range of motion in life. You do your best.