about Japan, random love, relationshipping

It’s time

My eyeballs need cocaineto visit my grandparents’ grave.  I want to scrub-brush the tombstone, take some pretty flowers, burn some incense, put my hands together and pray.

Their grave is on a mountainside and the view is stunning; however, the sheer size of this cemetery is intimidating.  I’ll need a map and it’ll take me twenty times as long to find their grave as it will to sit, pray, think, love.

Some of my earliest memories are at my grandparents’ home in rural Japan.

A single-digit me hangs out in the piney front yard with huge moss-covered boulder-stones, awesome bonsai, random fruit trees, flowers sprouting jolts of color and a little stream running sweet, cold water.

My morning routine: cut through the superskinny passageway connecting our house to my grandmother’s sister’s home and walk around the foresty hill behind the house.  I collect various beetles as I get mercilessly bitten by mosquitoes but no matter because I’m off and running to the local candy shop and grocery where the shopkeepers think me a lovable but strange novelty, being reared in the States.  I say neighborhood hellos and discover chocolate-covered strawberry bon-bons(!!!) from a vending machine next to the neighborhood shrine; cicadas rhythmically scream-buzz in the humid afternoons, rows and rows of them encircle the tall shrine tree trunks.  Finding those bon-bons was a fucking awesome day.

My aunt wakes around noon and I watch her hour-long makeup routine in awe; her lipstick palette alone fascinates me for many minutes.  She was a model in Tokyo when she was young; many decades later, she’s no doubt the hippest woman in this quiet town.  She loves to tango and has many male admirers; my uncle’s joy over this is easily measured in the cans of beer that stack up, the brick thrown in her face was a little more direct.  Sometimes it takes her too many hours to finish her makeup so an impatient me plays in a field, looks for four-leaf clovers and makes necklaces out of weedy flowers.  Sometimes I ride the bus to explore neighboring towns but mostly I walk around, suck nectar from honeysuckles, balance on raised concrete borders of rice paddies and stare at tadpoles and frogs.

As the sky starts to turn pink-orange, I buy beer and cigarettes from adjacent vending machines for my uncle and cousin, respectively.  They drink and smoke while I light fireworks at night, sometimes with my next-door second cousins, sometimes not.

The family was tight.

So tight that when my older cousin gets too involved with the Yakuza, he lives with us in the states until- years later- he can resume life in Japan.

So tight that when his younger brother gets into rougher and rougher shenanigans at school, it’s his turn to live with us.

So fucking tight that this cousin uses an eight-year-old me for firsthand sex ed.

He doesn’t have to ask me to keep our secret.

I look up to him; I block it out of my mind.
It didn’t happen.

Nothing.

Happened.

As long as he lives with us, I don’t say anything.

Even when he ‘asks’ me to watch porn with him.
And taunts me (some days I’m really dumb and not cute, other days I’m a brilliant beauty; this confuses me).
And breaks my collarbone.

I don’t hate him.
I don’t know that I will ever hate him.

Even as he continues to mess with a ten, eleven, twelve-year-old me.
Even after a fifteen-year-old me feels immense relief that he has a girlfriend.
Only to find a box of Polaroids that he’s taken of me while I was asleep.

At seventeen I can’t deny what happened anymore; memory flashes disrupt my suburban teenage-hood.
At nineteen I tell my parents.

I still don’t hate him.
Even after my dad confronts him and he calls me a crazy bitch.
And a liar.

My grandparents are dead; it’s no longer their home.
And I’m no longer welcome there.

The greatest irony?
As I’m on this island, many years later and planning to visit my grandparents grave, I miss that family.
I didn’t quite realize the ultimatum: saving myself means goodbye to them forever.

Usually thinking about them doesn’t bum me out but apparently on a night like this, as I reflect, it makes me tremendously sad.

We don’t get many givens in this life.
Family is one of them.

Sometimes.

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relationshipping

Denial vengeance

Inpatientis a thing and it is NOT fun.

We go to the show and my <10-day ex tells me, “The singer’s totally checking you out.”
“Really?!!”

That’s awesome for my self-esteem.  I look over to their merch stand and as I make eye contact with the singer, she walks to the bathroom.  My ex follows her.

They emerge some minutes later and my ex tells me about her conversation with the cute singer:
I told her I liked their set, that we came from Memphis to see them.   She asked who ‘we’ meant, I pointed to you and said, my girlfriend.

Oh.

Except we’re broken up.  And you have a crush.

My ex continues:
Since we’re not going to have sex, I’m going to see *** (her crush).

Slam my heart against the wall a little harder, why don’t you?  Just like that my ex has simultaneously cock-blocked someone I could have some random fun with AND informed me that she’ll be driving two hours to see her crush, leaving me no way to get around this small unknown town for the night.  Awesome.

It’s a damn shitty, gross feeling to know that as I’m sweating stale beer and starving, my ex is out talking to, kissing? fucking?! her crush.  Love has no rules and new love doesn’t suffer fools gladly; it is too young, wild and headstrong to pause for words like consideration and other people’s feelings.

Insomnia hits.  My stomach growls because I want greasy, hot, melty food (preferably of the starchy variety) to sop up my show alcohol, but I can’t NOT think about my ex potentially fucking her new someone and that instantly nauseates me.  I stare blankly at the TV.

3:30, 4, 4:30AM.

Thank god my little compadre pooker is with me; her familiar muzzle and warm little body comforts me.  I hug my little Izzy dog and we try to sleep.

5:30, 6, 6:30AM.

Sleep never comes but my ex comes back to drive us home.

She looks exhausted and I almost offer to drive the first bit so she can crash but I just. don’t. have. it. in. me.

I think a fuck of a lot the whole way home.

We had a remarkable decade

but

I have no regrets of an ending of us.

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relationshipping, the sex

The last time

Inpatientis a mindfuck.

I never know that the last sex will be the last sex.
It’s a hollow shock once realization hits.

***

We break up.
Oh, right, we did buy those tickets for the show next week.
In another state, hotel room for the night.
We decide to go.
Ol’ times sake.

We sit at a famed meat-and-three joint on the road to the show.  We’re quiet, but able to maintain conversation.  Things feel comfortable for the first time in our post-break-up world.  I look out the window, breathing in the cloudless Missouri sky; it’s a beautiful blue and suddenly—

Her: What?  What is it?  Why are you looking like that now?
Me: I’m just processing…you really want to know?
Her: Yeah, you got obviously sad and quiet all of a sudden.
Me: It just hit me that we’ve had our last sex.
Her: Silence.  Whoa this is weird; she’s never at a loss for words.
Me: What’s up?  Are you okay?
Her: I thought we’d have sex tonight, you know, because…it’d be the perfect ending.
Me: Seriously?!  But we’re broken up…and I need to process that and…I just…can’t.

She’s affected, which surprises me.
Slow tears roll down her face, which floors me.

Neither of us eat anything else and as I pay for the check she gets on her phone.
She’s texting her crush, who happens to live not so far from where the show is.

I can count the number of days we’ve been broken up.  She has a new crush.  Why the hell would I think she’d want to have a last sex?

She drives.
I think.

A meaningful last sex sounds sweet but sweet sentimentality like this is not a language I speak.  As she grieves over a last sex that won’t happen, I recall and play our last in my head.  Only because it was fairly recent am I able to remember any of the details: she came, I came and a plastic bottle, one-third full of orange-colored Vitamin Water stands on the edge of the platform bed.  Wow, that was our last time.  That the damn bottle of Vitamin Water is the most detailed part of last sex memory indicates how unremarkable it was.

***

A decade of sex: many firsts, orgasms, toys, locations, positions, the list goes on.
I believe in the decade of messy, innocent, funny, awkward, loving, real moments…not in a perfectly designed last memory as my heart still breaks.

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relationshipping

I say, Give me the real

The other day

so it’s only fair that I give back said real.

And currently, this is the real:
We each found love post (visa)marriage and it has been the hardest thing.

I’m not friends with my exes.  With one, we aren’t not friends but we certainly aren’t a presence in each other’s lives.  And to get to true peace of the end of what was basically a common-law marriage, I had to exercise a total break.

With my ex-GF/wife (whom I will refer to as S from here on out):
I choose to break up.
And it is the most difficult thing.

As S transitions, there is no less love but the rapid-heartbeat, make-me-melt love gives way to a more protective, almost maternal love.  It isn’t the end of a honeymoon phase as this is 1.8 years into our relationship.  Romantic love turns agape love.

I move on, emotionally, while she is still in love with me.
This then becomes the most difficult thing.

I feel guilty for moving on, I wish I could ignore my stupid heart.  I don’t break up unless it is undeniably time because that look- when I look into her beautiful eyes that read only such deep heartbreak…well, that breaks my heart every time.  And knowing that I’m the cause of an agonizing heartbreak makes me feel pretty damn rotten.  There’s just no getting out of any meaningful relationship without hurt.  The deeper the love, the more fucking massive the hurt.

She finds love, which confronts me with a slew of unexpected feelings.
And this makes me a most difficult person.

It’s not fair.  It being the inevitable grief that comes with a significant ending to an incomparably more significant relationship.  It’s not fair for either of us because grieving is just plain hard.  When I chose to break up with S, I knew I was shutting the door on unconditional love.  I could have someone who would love and cherish me no matter what, who wanted nothing more but a permanent future with me because that equaled a bright hope and happiness.  Stupid, stupid heart.

I am no longer her person.
Her face lights up so brightly, voice softens, mood transforms and her heart visibly melts when she receives a text or call from her love.
Before this incredible, new love, my loss wasn’t so palpable; as I moved on, she’s been working through one hell of a terrific heartbreak until her new beautiful person.

This isn’t jealousy.
S is a beautiful person through and through and I want love to do right by her, in a way that I could not.

This is the realness of feeling the loss of the love I gave up.

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random love

Good grief

The other dayis another familiar.

You need to try to master the ability to feel sad without actually being sad.

~Mingyur Rinpoche,
(quoted by Laurie Anderson, November 21st 2013 issue of Rolling Stone)

I believe in the good grief.

There was a five-year period in my life where I grieved.  A lot.
There were deaths and a most significant break up.  One terminal illness was such an intimate part of my life, I might as well have been in bed with it.

A dear friend recently shared a death experience.  The feelings, confusion and questions brought on by the grieving process- how and when to deal or not deal- makes me think, look back and consider who I was then and who I am now as a result.

Grieving is inconvenient.

I realize that the sly workings of grief overwhelm at the most unexpected moments.  I think I am okay, I feel myself smiling because I feel a genuine, warm happiness from within when suddenly, my heart is hollowed out and I gasp, in shock that I am felled so immediately and completely.  It doesn’t matter that the tears don’t fall because I’m wrecked from the inside, can’t catch my goddamn breath and there goes my plan for the next few hours because I must simply feel out this pain.  I am immobilized.

Except this time when I look around, you aren’t there.
This time it’s the death of us that I grieve.
There’s no you to talk to, cry with, come home to.
It hits harder, sadder because before, with you, sharing the grief was so…unlonely.

Time can help.

But it’s not the ultimate panacea.  My heart still breaks 2, 5, 8, 10, 13 years after the fact.
It’s not as raw but it still hurts and…truth?  Sometimes, every so often, it is as raw.

Sometimes it takes a friend from long ago to identify changes within myself.  It seems that I am more open and caring.  But then again if I didn’t evolve after confronting childhood demons, heartbreak, grief, and probing and challenging relationships, what a waste of life experience on me, no?

I can sit in death’s aftermath, maintain a clear line of reason and be optimistic about the future, even, but I can’t not be sad when I’m feeling the sadness.

Feel sad and not actually be sad?
I’m working on it.

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