Happy September, year 3

year 3
The winds have changed in Tokyo, seemingly overnight.
The skies that were muffled in grey and dropping rain show fall’s turn and reveal a remarkably clear blue sky; the inescapable light reiterates that I live on an island.

America is about back-to-school excitement amidst a Labor Day weekend as Japan doggedly goes back to its school/work routine now that summer vacations are undeniably over.

I sit and contemplate what to write.

It’s quiet.
Insanely quiet for a city that is the most populous in the world.  The sliding doors are open to let in crisp, post-rain air and I have yet to hear a car honk but I can hear their tires on the pavement.

It’s been 2 years in this city, on this island.
I told myself I would wait 2 years before I cast judgment on Tokyo because:
Year 1 would be new and full of adjustments: culture shock, exploration, figuring out everything (turns out I would focus more on figuring out my relationship as S transitions).
Year 2 would allow for a sinking in of the former (or The Breakup Year).

Year 3… seems to have a full-circle theme.
I consider a recent Saturday: S and I go out to a trans party-event, we meet up with our respective good friends and the person I’m seeing is welcomed by S.  This last bit is huge, as friendliness between them has been a HELL. OF. A challenge, with 100% animosity coming from S for quite a while.  Regardless of the why, the turnaround is a notable event.  The last time S and I were out together it was disastrous so this night is significant progress.

We move on.

The arc of a new story has broken, as evidenced by impending events:
S’s BF will visit from the states, during which time I will check in to a separate apartment and check out a new Tokyo hood.
New significant people, new locations and potential moves begin to beckon.

Current mood: curious and anxious for future tidings.



My kind of romantic

goes like this:

They don’t exchange wedding rings; they’re pretty damn poor.

There’s a wedding, a celebration with some family and great friends, the best music, tons of laughter and dancing and drinks and recreational drugs (it’s the 70’s and they’re very un-square).  It’s a fun time for all, through and through.  The honeymoon is a road trip via Harley Davidson.

She works.  So. Damn. Hard.
She is the superstrong magnet that draws everyone— especially troubled ones— and they feel safe unloading their woes; she’s their best ally.  Everyone who has at least one significant chat with her experience her wisdom and biting Southern wit, a memorable combination.  Chats are significant, not only because of content but in that moment, you believe that nothing is more important to her than spending that time with you.

He’s the life of the party.  He never holds back.  Ever.
With him, it’s a love-hate relationship.  His friends are the most loyal bunch and the hatred he inspires is equally longstanding.  Let’s just say that his fierce op-ed piece about a certain university’s racist subterfuge sure as hell has consequences along the lines of: anyone bearing his last name can forget about an acceptance letter.  He will always call you out on bullshit, which is mostly awesome but sometimes it’s exhausting but when it reaches that point, he’s the first to ask who’s got the joint: relaxed and cutting humor enters and stays for the night.  It’s a good time.

Over the years there are children, taking care of sick parents, looking after criminal and addicted siblings, building an incredibly successful business and meaningful births and deaths many times over.  They take many trips around their native United States and abroad, some are more challenging than others (Mexico with children, say) but all are memorable and what else matters as we age and reflect?

Twenty-five years of marriage pass.  They’re in France, enjoying Paris as only such devoted francophiles can.  They have incredible gastronomic adventures, study history, look at art and shop.  One night, they meet up after solo shopping and he’s sporting his big purchase, a classic Hermès leather bomber jacket— super cool and ruggedly handsome.  They exchange stories, laugh, drink.

Before the night ends, he produces a single jewelry box: Cartier.
She opens it: her wedding ring.

Absolutely perfect.
So romantic.



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.

relationshipping, trans talk

How The Two Became One or Sorry I Can’t Tell a Short Story

(Guest post written by Seralyn for Rumi’s 50th post!)

We awoke to a rather auspicious sunrise, at the far-too-early hour of 7 a.m.

“What manner of person rises at such an hour?” I thought to myself. It didn’t help that I had only fallen asleep a mere two hours before. Bleary-eyed and stumbling, I made my way to the shower room to take what, in hindsight, felt like the Fastest Shower Ever. I believe the shower totaled something like 4 1/2 minutes. You see, a goodly portion of my normal routine had been omitted when the need to cross-dress for this event arose. Can you imagine the legal necessity of cross-dressing for such an occasion? I find it difficult to believe myself. Upon exiting the shower, I’m greeted by an unusually bubbly and perky Rumi-chan. Seeing her demeanor and flippant disregard for the unseemly hour brightened both my mood and my consciousness.

Without thinking, I began to form outfit options in my mind’s eye.

“Oh, right. Boy clothes,” I remembered.

Where did I even put that stuff? After rummaging around in the back and bottom of a drawer, I discovered my sole forgotten pair of guy jeans. At least they turned out to be skinny jeans. It could have easily been the case that I ended up with those denim harem pants that guys call jeans these days. I found a black T-shirt and went in search of a reasonable top shirt. I locate a military-style button up that hasn’t been worn in over a year. Being that it’s literally the only option, I toss it on top of my bag. “There’s no way I’m wearing this any longer than necessary,” I think to myself. Perhaps it seems I’m being over-dramatic in my distaste for such things(It’s only clothes, right?), but I can’t help but feel strange and at odds with myself as I put it on. At least it’s a simple affair.

Shoes? This is normally the most fun part of getting ready for me. I happen to be addicted to fun shoes, you may or may not know. Straps, platforms, wedges, booties, heels- yes! Gimme, gimme, gimme. Hum… pumps with this outfit are a no-go. Hi-top leather sneakers it is. Once again, my only choice.

Time for hardware. Even as a guy I was oft bespeckled to what was considered a reasonable, if somewhat flowery degree[by some]. I break out and dust off the metalwork rings and fabulous Swiss armpiece given to me by Rumi two Xmases prior. How that particular watch came to be in my possession is another fun and interesting story, involving a trip to Brooklyn from Philadelphia and an extremely trusting Hasidic Jewish man; one we’ll perhaps relate another day. At this point, I’m fully ready and it’s been all of seven minutes post-shower. I glance over at Rumi, who is still working her eyeliner like a champ. I release a sigh. She can read me like a book after these years we’ve been together, and quickly senses that I wish that I too could get glamified for the occasion. She comforts me with meaningful and poignant comments along the lines of, “When we do this for real, you’ll have the most fabulous eye-make up imaginable,” and “We’ll get you some serious heels and a killer dress for the actual thing”. She makes me smile. She always could.

Once she’s finished the primping-stage she retreats to the tatami room and proceeds to finish getting ready while I poke around on the computer. She asks for my opinion, so I turn around and find myself in awe of how beautiful she looks. Resplendent in a white day dress(that was my idea, thank you very much!) and some vintage wooden platform sandals, she stops me in my tracks. After I ogle her for what was probably an indecent amount of time, we decide that we are ready. Documents gathered and in-hand, we do what any self-respecting couple-to-be would and shoot some whiskey before heading out the door. We’re getting married after all.

On the way to the train station we complete the necessary steps to procure the guilty pleasure that will supposedly counterbalance the trail of paperwork we’re about to attempt to surmount and get some McDonald’s Egg and Cheese McMuffins. While waiting for the train, I catch myself in the mirror and somewhat startle myself. I really haven’t gone out in public like this, dressed like this at all, in so long. I shrug it off and decide to start shooting video with which to remember this historic occasion. Rumi and I talk into the iPhone camera, blabbing nonsensically as our whiskey takes effect, in what we’ll later regard as a silly and endearing way.

Train ride- 3 minutes.

While waiting for our two witnesses,  we discuss exactly how far away from the pile of trash bags waiting to be picked up we should stand and I greedily consume my McMuffin as Rumi enjoys her whiskey buzz. Our witnesses arrive. They seem surprised to be given McMuffins as well. This pleases me. We walk to the Toshima Ward Office. Directly outside the building I pull my pants’ legs down and put on my shirt. Inside, we go.

Once inside, after locating the appropriate counter, we’re served up nearly immediately, only to realize that we need more time to fill out parts of documents that we previously needed guidance with. Four more groups of people go in front of us as we try to get our witnesses’ information filled in, in Kanji, in the appropriate spaces. It is all very confusing. We finally manage to achieve a state of seeming harmony with the application and approach the counter. We hand the lady the form, our passports, secondary forms, a copy of Rumi’s Family Registry(think Birth Certificate) and a few other peripheral documents. They ask for the original Family Registry. I of course brought it, but think there must be some mistake, because she’s implying that she wants to take it and not give it back. “But this is the original,” I explain to her. She insists that she understands, and that’s how this works. Rumi and I are baffled, and somewhat concerned but figure that this is just how this is to go down. Little did we realize that they’re permanently taking this document away that’s been in her possession since the 70’s, because she’s being un-registered from her family, that she’s creating A New Family Registry. This was a little scary for us.

They finally felt satisfied with what we gave them and disappeared and reappeared intermittently to have us scratch through errant pen marks that could potentially be misconstrued for some other character or to add things they felt should be there. My favorite was when they brought forms back just so I could circle a character. They knew exactly which character needed to be circled and yet they had to make sure I circled it.

Fast forward a bit and we’ve finally sent the witnesses off and get ushered to two other counters. We’re filling out some sort of Certificate of Official Confirmation of Residence(if I can read the characters correctly) when the woman at the counter asks us for our insurance information.

“Yeah, about that…” we say, “we don’t have any.”

She misunderstands and thinks that we mean that we are one of those odd and rare people who pays for private health insurance when the National Health Insurance works just fine and is cheaper.

“No, we don’t have any insurance at all.” we repeat.

“You’re not …in…any insurance program?” She seems somewhat taken aback.

“Actually, we are not.” we inform her.

She asks us to go and sit down and wait for her to call us back up. Rumi and I go sit down and begin trying to guess what the other people around us are there for.

“Those two….getting married, y’think?”

“Maybe…or maybe she’s translating for him. Hmm…” Rumi opines.

They sit down near us. I use my uncanny stealth-spy skills to try listening to what they’re saying. The Japanese girl pulls out her phone and I see a picture of the two of them on the front, faces close.

“They’re totally getting married today too,” I whisper to Rumi. She nods sagely.

At this point our whiskey buzz has worn off and I’m acutely feeling my lack of sleep. I doze intermittently and only vaguely recall the woman coming back over more than once asking, “You really don’t have any insurance?? You’re sure?” A few more noddings off and head-jerks awake we get called over and are told that we’re done here and to go upstairs for insurance registration.

Fast forward through insurance registration, yet another counter, yet another consultation and form, the meaning of which we only vaguely understand- maybe?– and we’re finally done. Actually done. We share a series of curious and utterly unique, yet entirely familiar sequences of facial expressions, and although we desire greatly to go directly to a bar, Rumi has to go teach some Japanese people how to speak English for a few hours. We part ways.

After a quick jaunt through a cookie store, the subway, and a nap which was entirely too short and perhaps more disorienting than if I had stayed awake, she returns and I kidnap her for a string of establishment-hopping. After another shot of whiskey, of course. First, I whisk us to a Yakiniku place on our street that we’ve always wanted to go to, but never have been able to. Yakiniku literally translates to “grilled meat”, but it’s one of those little charcoal braziers with a vacuum tube over it where you grill your own marinated meat and eat it right off of the grill. Next is a stop at our neighborhood Okonomiyaki pub, which is especially delicious in the way of these things. This fellow employs more than the standard Japanese flavors and ingredients in his savory dinner pancakes that are full of chopped octopus, garlic and ginger. Finally we try to go to a sushi place, but decide after we see the line that perhaps we’re not still hungry.

It was time for sweets.

I then lead her to our new artisanal western-goods import store recently completed over our train station and we get a healthy wedge of Roquefort and a couple of pastry cream-filled chocolate eclairs.

We stumble back home. What happened after that is none of your damned business.

IMG_3381IMG_3384 IMG_3385 IMG_3392 IMG_3394 IMG_3398 IMG_3405 IMG_3406