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Published: December 18th 2009
Kamakura DaibutsuAuthor's note: If you don't have a private invite...you'll have no idea what's going on. Msg me if you want to check earlier entries?
Huge Buddha Statue that isn't so huge
I tossed and turned all night, sometimes jolting up in a cold sweat, fumbling for my cell phone to check the time. I had overslept…no, no, still good.
After every panic attack, I laid back down, staring wide at the small digital clock on my cell phone…until I would invariably nod off, then catch myself and bolt upright again…
So when my alarm finally rang at 7, the world had taken a hazy vividness reminiscent of university all-nighters or hungover days after. Nothing seemed to be in focus because everything was in focus, giving my vision an ethereal dreamlike quality.
This trancelike state I was in, my lack of sleep and the three months of passing since that day has led me to forget much. Did I spend 20 minutes picking and choosing clothes? Probably. Did I meticulously do my hair, and then decide at the last second to wear a cap? Probably. Did I try to eat breakfast, but pushed it away because of nervousness? Once again, probably.
is not much I remember from that day. Just distinct snapshots, when my memory decided to engrave a scene into my mind. These are not the important parts of the day, and I would say in regards to the story being told, these memories are decidedly random. But this is what I remember, three months later.
I vaguely recollect meeting her in Shinjuku station, and then getting on the Shonan-Shinjuku line, and then halfway through the 45 minutes ride, getting two adjacent seats.
Much of the conversation was pointless, aimless and forgettable. Two friends, talking about all the random shit two young twenty-something-year-olds talk about. I don’t remember any of it.
What I do remember is that everytime I threw in a flirtatious line, she would react the same way: a doubtful tilt of the head and a small bite of her lower lip. Maybe to show that she thinks I do this with every girl I know, or maybe because she doesn’t know how to respond.
Either way, it’s cute. It’s fucking cute.
It’s not like I haven’t seen this move before. Every Asian girl (and every Asianophile white girl) in America
does it, simply because, all girls in J-Pop and J-Dramas do it. But on American soil, this cute little show of perplexity serves no purpose other than to signal an endearing quirk a girl doesn’t actually possess. It’s the pre-ripped jeans of female Asian-American character design.
And I fucking hate pre-ripped jeans.
What in front of me was the original ripped and faded jeans from overuse. The prototype. The real deal. Sure it’s fake. Normal humans don’t tilt their heads and bite their lips and make big doe-y eyes when confused. But it’s about as fake as my New York City accent; I didn’t come bouncing outta my mom’s womb throwin’ E’s and “axing my friens if they wanna wawk to the bodega”. From a young age I was inundated with it, I slowly changed and fused it into me. Now, even when I desperately try to conform to Middle America English when I’m on Canadian soil or teaching English, I still mispronounce “cost”, “walk”, “talk” and “New York” because it’s part of my character.
This head quirk is the same for her. I smiled at the wholesome cuteness of it.
“No, its true,” I would say everytime. “You are cute,” or “that shirt does look nice on you”, or any other statement affirming what she doubted.
That’s my only memory of the long, 45-minute train ride to Kamakura.
A balled up receipt whispers that we ate at a restaurant in Kamakura but I can’t recall the food, nor the talk we inevitably had while eating, nor the restaurant itself.
A ticket stub says we saw the Daibutsu Buddha statue in Kamakura, but this I can hardly recall…in fact, when I try to remember it, I just get an image from my Japanese textbook of smiling tourists posing in front of it.
Gifts I bought for friends meant we strolled around the endless trinket shops that surround any tourist attraction…but here too, my memory doesn’t serve me. Did we bounce through the stores, trying ridiculous souvenir outfits no one buys but everyone loves trying on and taking pictures of? Did we meander slowly through the stores checking out the wares?
The only memory I have of Kamakura was the short bus ride from Kamakura station to the Daibutsu. We sat behind two American tourists who were loudly arguing about Medicare, and for this trivial reason alone, I remember this otherwise inconsequential bus ride.
Chiaki asked what they were talking about. My limited Japanese vocabulary doesn’t include universal health care, doctor fees nor socialism so I simply told her they were talking American politics, stressing they were extremely lame.
“Oh, I see. I just thought they were just making fun of each other. But now I can see they’re lame”
I nodded my head. Funny how when one knows the truth, it all comes together.
To the rest of the people on the bus, these Americans were just being loud foreigners and to the rest of the bus, we were simply a couple. A boy had sat down on the window seat and the girl he came on the bus with had unhesitatingly sat beside him. They were a couple. A boy and a girl taking a bus to Kamakura’s daibutsu on a Saturday afternoon. There was no other explanation. A boy and a girl, sitting side by side, not needing to talk, but enjoying each other’s company.
Perhaps because they weren’t holding hands, or snuggled next to each other, they had dated for a while and didn’t need to reaffirm their love. Or maybe they were extremely mature and shied away from even the most basic displays of affection in public.
But no. We were just friends.
It explains why we sat next to each other, but there was at least three inches of space between us in the crammed bus. It explains why the two of us were going to the daibutsu…friends randomly go places together, right?
And if one looked deeper, they could perhaps catch a glance of longing the boy gave the girl when he thought she wasn’t looking, the way he kept glancing at her hand, wondering if he could hold it, or the way he silently smiled at sitting next to the girl.
But if no one knew, the boy and the girl were just a couple. The guy sometimes showing looks of love when he thought the girl wasn’t looking because he felt so lucky he was with her. Both of them silently in love.
From Kamakura we must’ve made our way to Enoshima. Maybe because Kamakura has nothing other than the Daibutsu and we still had a whole evening to kill, maybe because I convinced her it would be cool to go there, or maybe because she wanted to see the ocean.
There is nothing to remind me of this scene: no obnoxiously lame Americans (foreigners are thankfully unaware of the beauty that is Shonan), no ticket stubs (JR’s automated Suica system took care of that), no receipts, no nothing. But we did go, because the next scene in my mangled reel from that day is in Enoshima.
It was getting dark and we were sitting on a bench on a seawall, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
I didn’t look at her once, so I cant describe some flawless beauty juxtaposed with the coal grey sky, or the faint smile she must’ve had telling me how Enoshima reminded her of her late grandmother’s house back in the South.
I just remember sitting in silence, watching the waves crash into the seawall and listening to her sniffling as she recounted the day her grandmother died.
We stopped by a small booth on the way back to Enoshima Station. One of those shoot-em-up fairground games. Hit ten and win a prize!
She shot delicately, taking careful aim and slowly pulling the trigger.
I bought two guns and started blazing from the hips, then crossing my arms and firing madly. Wildly hitting, wildly missing. A crowd amassed and cheered me on.
She jokingly chided me for my exuberant ways, but silently thanked me for trying to cheer her up with my boyish stunts.
We ended up with two cast iron keychains. The only mementos from that day.
Yokohama Station. She was going on the Yokosuka Line. I was going to the Tokaido Line.
She turned around and made to leave. I grabbed her shoulder, spun her around and hugged her.
“That girl…that girl that I liked…it’s you. I love you.”
We remained in the hug, the seconds slowly ticking by.
She patted me on the back. Twice. And then she started wriggling. I loosened my grip and she ducked up.
She stared at me, her eyes shining. “Sorry.”
She spun around and started running to the #9 platform, her oversized white shirt tails fluttering as she skidded to a stop and bounded up the stairs to her waiting train.
And that's the last thing I remember.
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