relationshipping

Reboot

Reboot

 

and reconsider.

So, I have yet to live on my own.
My first long-term relationship was with my roommate.

I remember a conversation on a couch…
“Are we going to regret this?”
“Regret what?”
“That we’ve never…dated…you know?”
“Hmm…I guess…I don’t know.  We go on dates...
“That’s not what I mean.  Will we regret never having had a proper courtship?  The dating period, having our own places, choosing— really choosing— to live together.”

I feel a little hollow and all I can articulate is, “Oh.”
Followed with, “Well, do you want to?  Live apart, I mean.  I’m sure we can find a way out of this lease, figure something out…”
But it feels like a big fat lie I’m spouting for all the effort and cash it’s going to cost.  Let’s be real.  We’re 21 years old, in Manhattan and just forked a fat wad of monies for this proper one-bedroom apartment not even a month ago.  The entire reason we’re living together is because it’s convenient and cost-effective.  Well, there’s love too.

I look at her and see concern and consternation.
Which makes me pause, doubt, rethink.

Maybe we I should seriously reconsider this.  This is a point of no return of sorts; even my pseudo-adult self knows that undoing, retreating, detaching is always more exhausting a process than getting over the shock, hurt, adjustment in the present.

“Hmm…I-I wonder if…what do you think?  For real?  I know it’d be a shit process but I don’t want you to regret this.”
We’re silent.
We’re exhausted.
We’re not even unpacked.

I roll a spliff because it’s what I do in these uncomfortable moments when heavy uncertainty clouds the air.  Getting high isn’t the goal as it’s the calm within the routine I seek.  Like ironing.

But we get high.  I look at the cat stretching in the windowpane sun squares on the hardwood floor and take in my familiar surroundings: colorful furniture we hand-painted last year, schools of soft plastic, blue Jedi goldfish gathered on ceiling corners, a beautiful, delicate orchid that we hope will make it, post-jostling move (a ‘grown-up present’ from her parents given a few months ago, her 21st birthday) and the art on the walls that comfort in their familiarity.

We’ve laid a touching foundation for our home.
We get sentimental, talk of not wanting to live apart because the love and like in the moment is worth risking cohabitation-induced regret and/or speeding up a breakup.

We show our youthful naiveté.

***

I live alone for an entire three months before a roommate enters the triplex my ex and I shared in the South.  Then I get a boyfriend and it seems the most sensible choice for him to stay with me during our crazy honeymoon phase because he lives a state away.  Our first night together is our last night apart for at least a year, when he leaves for some cowboy-Montana-ranch thing.  In the span of three years, we can count the number of nights we spend apart.  On two hands.

This boyfriend, my current ex-girlfriend and wife, and I realize our cohabitation time is coming to a definitive end in Tokyo.
I contemplate my words regarding personal space:
I need to have a place to call my own, to fill with objects of my own choosing, to maintain as I like without considering somebody else.
I have never lived alone.
I resent this inexperience.

But.

The luxury of daily emotional support from my ex/best friend/wife/roommate in spite of challenging fights and moments of high emotion is not lost on me.
Nor is the fact that I am kept alive through alcohol poisoning and nursed through a recent Dengue Fever because of her.
There is an ideological shift.

I consider my past, how my natural inclination is to share my life with the ones I love.
Cohabitation.
It’s what I do and I’m starting to think it’s the way I live my life.

 

P.S. Reader requested topics: I’m working on it!

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relationshipping

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.

 

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relationshipping

The flip-side

Truth or tactA heartbroken me walks home from a party.
It’s a long walk.  But when your heart is alternately in your throat and drag-flopping on the pavement with every step, an hour is a fast pass.

I’m still in love with my ex.  We got married a few weeks ago so I could stay in the country and tonight we’re finally going out for the first time as friends, to celebrate the marriage.  The other day she saw me getting sentimental about marriage and set me straight with, “You know this is just a visa marriage, right?”  I kept staring at the screen then, nodding, “yeah.”

Ouch.

But I’m excited; we haven’t gone out together in this new city yet and I’ve been looking forward to getting ready with her.  It’s a good way to break friendship ground.

Then she asks if it’d be cool if we meet up at the party instead because this guy that she’s been non-stop texting just asked her to dinner.  Goddammit she’s into him.  It’s been like two days since they’ve started talking but I can tell she likes him, probably more than she even knows or is willing to admit.

“If that’s what you want to do…”
“Are you sure?”
Of course I’m not sure but I’m not supposed to have to tell her that.  She’s supposed to know that we had plans to go to this thing together.

“Just…go.”

Before she’s even out the door, the tears fall fast, heavy and loud.
I try to will her to come back but with every stupid second that hollows me out I have to face that she’s gone.

***

I scan the room for her, as her friends have been asking where she is.
She’s never been one to be on time exactly but if she says she’s going to be there, she will.  Finally she comes up to me, bright smile and looking as fucking beautiful as ever.  Damn her.
…and him.  Great.  Of course he’s here.  I hate him on sight.

I get interviewed by the promoters of the club, my trusty friend helping to translate every so often.  I’m proud of myself for answering most of the questions in my non-native tongue first time out.  I scan the room in-between chatting it up with random folks here and there.  I can’t help but wonder where she is, I want to tell her about my interview.

I see her.
On. His. Lap.
Making out.

***

I’m tired of attempting to answer where the hell she disappeared to.  I have no idea but saying that is an embarrassing admittance that— that I don’t know where she is, like I used to.  She isn’t holding herself accountable to me.  I hate this realization.

I’m spent.  I’ve drunk but I’m not drunk.  I’m hurt.  I cry.  I had such expectations of this night; one of celebrating a new chapter for us, married best friends who love the hell out of each other.  This was supposed to be the most fun night yet.  We used to have such a blast going out, getting drunk, talking and laughing…god we used to laugh hard together.

Memories start to flood and the tears flood even harder to keep up with the flashback onslaught: falling in love, moving in together, knowing this is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with, trave— and I have to sit because feeling the heart break can’t be done standing solo.  I sit on a curb in the early fucking morning.  I sob.

Of course I don’t hear his footsteps.  I don’t hear or notice anything until I feel the back of my head jammed forward onto some guy’s dick.  He forces my mouth open and rams it in.  If I had a gag reflex it’d be in full revolt but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to vomit.  Except I can’t because the shock, my empty emotional self, this whole fucking night has left me void.

I don’t care anymore.
I didn’t think it could get worse.
It got worse.

***

Eventually I tell her about the assault.
She’s shocked and feels absolutely terrible.  She cries for me and keeps apologizing as she feels indirectly responsible.  She asks if I need to talk to anyone, that I should talk to someone; of course she’s available but she understands if I just want to get as far away from her as possible after the hurt she’s caused.

“I’m more hurt by you and your actions than having to suck some guy off.”
“Oh.”

Yeah.

Living with the ex?
Sure, that can be a rough ride but getting over her is plenty hard enough.

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trans talk

Standards of the Double Sort

In an effort to mix things up and maintain the original focus of this blog, Rumi and I have decided that I should be a guest-writer for every 50th blog post. Kudos to Rumi on her dedication to maintaining this blog on the regular as well as clear improvement in her writing as a result of it. Happy 100th post, Rume!*


The title of this post stems from the blooming of my awareness of all of the double standards that exist between men and women, and how much more perceivable they are on one side of the path than the other, as well as how I feel about those differences. On the one hand, everyone should be treated equal, right? Well sure…but is being treated the same the same as being treated equally? I’ve come to realize that while some of the double standards that I had an active disapproval of when living as a male, are actually some of the very things that tickle me pink and bemuse me on a regular basis.

Since transitioning, I’ve put a fair amount of thought into both the blatant and more subtle ways in which I’m treated differently by the people around me. While some of the changes are welcome, some others I’ve encountered have elicited reactions within me which range from mild surprise to outright disbelief. One thing that certainly bears mentioning is the dichotomy of treatment I received while actively and openly transitioning at the school I attended here in Tokyo as well; a sort of elective recognition of sorts, both frustrating and validating at times.

As for some of the more subtle differences, I would have to say that most have been pleasant, if not necessarily positive. People from all walks of life began to smile at me as I walked by. I started to get heckled by certain types of men. Compliments about my outfits and style from women were received. I also found that getting ready (for work/to go out/to go on a date) was no longer a chore but an adventure, and while that is more of a personal revelation, it’s worth it’s weight in typeface.

After having reached the somewhat rocky plateau of being ‘mostly’ recognized as a woman in public, it seemed that I had never before realized the divergent nature of people. Women became simultaneously more open and accessible to approach and speak to, as well as seemingly less interested in me, while being far, far more critical of my appearance. It was a strange sensation to have women smile at my approach and face me as opposed to being ‘on guard’ for harassment, undesired flirting, or fear of some form of physical ill-treatment, while watching their body language shift to the defensive and exclusionary. Men, on the other hand, became much, much more polite. When they weren’t being obscenely direct and inappropriate, that is.

Perhaps the most acute feeling I’ve experienced in regards to this has been the loss of my male privilege coupled with the major backslide into perceived hedonism and outcast status, to some. Fortunately, most, if not all of that has run its course at this point, although I have no way of knowing if that would remain the case were I to return to the West. During transition, or at least the more obvious physical portions of it, I was the subject of many a stare, gawk, and double-take. Then there were  the looks I received when I handed my ID over for various reasons, and the inevitable questions that followed. Let’s not forget the flak I received at the airport and the looks of disapproval and outright disgust from elderly people, either.

The individuals who operated my school in Tokyo, to their credit, made several successions on my behalf that they had no precedent for at the time. They allowed me to not only use my chosen name on all of my school work, but even went so far as to have a small meeting with all of the teachers to ensure that they used the proper pronouns and called me by that name only in class (this was kind of big deal as many other people requested to be called by various nicknames, but were denied, even to the point of a shortened version of their actual names). After I stopped wearing men’s clothing completely, I was allowed to use the women’s restrooms. Occasionally, some teachers attached ‘-chan’ (a suffix used for women, girls, very young boys, pets, and all things cute) to my name. Conversely, there were moments which truly made me feel left out and less-than. When I signed up for a soccer ball kicking competition, after being pressed because there weren’t enough people signing up, my name was placed on the men’s list (after leaving school in the middle of the day crying, I was later allowed to kick with the girls and was given a formal apology by the staff member who placed me there). I was told that I should join the tea ceremony class, but when I asked if they actually had a kimono(the female garments) to fit me, there were pressed lips, shared glances, and was told perhaps I shouldn’t do it after all (don’t mess with their traditions!!).

As strange as it may sound, as a transsexual woman, although I feel it is very nearly my ‘duty’ to oppose the very idea of social gender roles and expectations, I coincidentally subscribe to those very concepts. Whether this is a product of my very nature, or my desire for social validation, I can’t properly say. What I can say is that I enjoy being treated ‘like a woman’, and all that entails. I enjoy when men offer to carry something for me, or any other common chivalric behaviors. I enjoy, in a strange way, it being assumed that I am going to take forever and a day to get ready (this is actually true). I enjoy having my appearance complimented first and my skills and aptitudes second. It pleases me when other women ask me for appearance checks or fashion advice. I even find it pleasant when my general way of being loose with my affections has garnered me a reputation of being a certain level of slutty.

A thing that I can say with certainty though: While I have endured much pain, self-loathing, despair, listlessness, and a slew of other negative emotions in regards to my transsexualism, I have come to realize that I wouldn’t trade it for being cisgender. This is more of a recent revelation, although one made with conviction. I can honestly say that very few individuals in this life are given (take?) the experience of walking on two very distinct, and yet surprisingly similar at times, paths. The strange and entirely unique spin it has given my perspective is…priceless. I mean…how many people do you know that have had the opportunity to sashay into a party in a little black dress and towering stilettos and also play Offensive Tackle?

 

*Thanks S!  I appreciate your enlightening share and am curious as to how your perspective will continue to shift.  Cheers!

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about Japan, random love

Happy Birthday!

My little blog is a happy one-year-old.

Woo!

Which means changes lie in wait, which then excites me as I wonder what the buildup of my present actions will bring.

Throughout this year, I’ve maintained that change is a constant and while that will always be a truth, I am so damn grateful for my other constant— my people.

Because I have the best people surrounding me; they burst with love, weirdness, smarts and all kinds of beauty.  And it’s so fucking awesome when my incredible friends from the States meet up with my great Tokyo peeps and they just get each other; the language barrier crumbles when people instantly see and appreciate the core of the other.  Also, a hardcore food challenge (horse sashimi? sea anemone? unnameable prehistoric baby snake-dragon lookalikes?) and delicious alcohol cuts through niceties and enables us to get real…so nice.

And you, lovely reader, thank you for stopping by and even more for following.  I started this blog as a way to process anew all of the dramatic changes the previous year had brought; all of my processing couldn’t stay in my head because…well, it just couldn’t.  What started as an outlet has become a deliberate and active sharing.  I’m automatically held more accountable by your presence which, in turn, makes me a better writer; a most sincere Thank You for that…what more can I ask for?

I don’t know what the future holds exactly.
My inner compass alerts me when it’s time to change but I don’t have a rigid plan.
This being vulnerable thing is a constant challenge but the results are usually affirming.
And when they’re not, my bitches know just what to say to calm me the fuck down.
Then I write some shit because a post-neurotic calm brings fun clarity.

So.
It’s been a year.

All I know is:
My time in Tokyo isn’t up.
My various relationships will continue to evolve in their own way.
I will continue to rely on my friends as they make life so, so much better.
And this blog will continue.

Seriously, thank y’all for reading.
∼xoxo

 

 

 

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about Japan, random love

Beautiful strangers

undo me.
Every time.

I don’t mean some random hot person that conjures feelings of doing it because they look at you just so.
I mean…

Two images keep rising through my swirling, sedated thoughts:

1) a collapsed woman and her husband, helpless before her barely conscious and very drunken body.

Most keep walking, some slow their pace, still others stare or shake their heads, even.
No one stops.
Time passes.

But.
Someone does stop.
The best kind of full-brake stop that starts by demanding of the subway attendant, “what the fuck with the help that was supposedly called?”
Followed by waiting with the woman while husband goes to buy water and kleenex as she’s a snotted mess, but if anyone can be a delicate and endearing pukey mess, it’s this woman.  Finally she is coax-forced to a standing position and pull-carried up steps to street level.  (By the way, taxis can take forever to catch if you need them to pull a u-turn because that’s against the rules and lord knows Tokyoites stay cozied up to a damned rule.)  Hooray for a rogue driver!  As the beautiful stranger negotiates with the driver, the husband marvels at this incredible show of kindness; there are no kinder people in the world, he tells his pouty and apologetic wife.

2) a broken-hearted man on a train; there’s no containing the tears and snot strings that such hurt brings.

Most don’t notice his grief; he’s not a loud crier.  But every stop after the one where she bolted cements the three, five, seven minutes that will turn to hours— agonizing hours— of a sinking in…ex-girlfriend.  And with each stop, he gets more frantic; he’s beyond giving a shit about hiding his tears because he’s hit a high wall of pain.  People next to him start to look away, shift their bodies away from his sad direction.  Except the girl standing directly in front of him; she studies him, his hands dripping tears and salt-mucused sleeves.  She looks thoughtful as she turns to exit but not before tossing a mini-pack of kleenex in his lap.

Four days, three nights and counting.
Weird sleep patterns, damn strong meds and forced quiet time makes for interesting processing.

Who knew I cared so much about random acts of kindness?

It’s what floats to the surface and cuts through my sleepy, painful coughing fits of late.

As our experiences are our constant, a thread of kindness is a nice binding agent.

 

 

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trans talk

Stare a little harder

Everyone's feels guiltywhy don’t you?

Or you could be the asshole on the train who yells at S, “Are you a man or a woman?!”
And keeps at it*.
She lets him know— in his native Japanese— that he’s being offensively rude**.
Then puts in her earbuds, volume high and tries to ignore his bulging frog-eyes and limpdick stare.
He comes closer.
She changes seats.
He follows.
She walks to another train car.
This dude is an insistent fuck.
She keeps walking.
He stops.  And stares through the sliding door glass separating the cars.

S went from holding the highest seat of privilege— white, heterosexual male to bisexual transsexual, which is about as drastic a drop as possible on the sexual-gender identity hierarchy.  As S goes from looking unmistakably male to slightly androgynous to very androgynous to fairly female to undeniably woman, visibility is an unexpected but oft-mentioned word in our household.  It’s amazing how visible she feels and how it highlights and detracts from her goal of invisibility.

I remember a time in the States when S said a friend of hers had stopped by my vintage pop-up shop.  She was with her boyfriend and S proceeds to describe them.  I have no memory of this couple.  She keeps describing them and I think I remember the guy.  But her friend, his girlfriend?  No recollection.  S smiles, satisfied.  Her friend has attained the ultimate goal— to go unnoticed or in this case, to simply be a woman in the background.

Transition is hard and the hate— wow.  The true feelings behind curious looks, stares and gawks are easily felt.  I’ve discerned the varying degrees of judgement over the years, stemming from racial, homosexual or most recently, transsexual prejudice.  And over the years my danger radar has been honed—it’s a matter of safety after identifying this bigotry.

How safe am I?
Is she?
Are we?

*Of course no one pipes in and gives support because that’s Tokyo hesitation and apathy for you; this happens in many scenarios, whether the person is a victim of harassment or physical injury.

** A tough thing about Japanese being my non-native language in this mostly polite society: I do not have an arsenal of situationally appropriate comebacks.  This drives me mad at moments.  Because sure, a cutting look can shut down many assholes but there are moments where there is no substitute for whip-smart articulation.

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