The thought that kept running through my head as I packed my bag tonight was the same as the thought I had the night I went to pick Yuka up for our first date: “What made me think this was a good idea?”
It’s funny because up until this evening I didn’t even consider whether or not I would feel intimidated meeting her family. All I really thought was, “Oh, visiting another country—that sounds like an interesting adventure.”
I’m excited. Really. But nervous. Check back for pictures. And if you want to see pictures of Yuka’s birthday present, send me an email and I’ll give you the link.
I am in the final week of my life as someone who has never traveled internationally. Friday between eleven and noon I will board a plane and beg for a window seat. I will time-travel across the international date line, one day into the future. (That’s why Japanese technology is always ahead of ours). I’ll get on a bus at the airport and ride for three hours to Minamikawachi, where I’ll disembark to be picked up by my girlfriend’s mother, whom I’ve never met. From that point on, I have very little idea what to expect until the third of January, when I’ll board a plane and travel back to present-day Los Angeles. I bought myself new shoes for the trip—they don’t have laces. That’ll be very handy, I think, in a country where shoes aren’t worn inside.
On Wednesday, my twenty-sixth birthday, I went to lunch with some of my closest new friends. It was a very nice lunch. I stayed late at work because I’m really into what I’m working on right now, and when I left I headed straight to a treatment center in Malibu for rich teenagers. I didn’t print out detailed directions as I should have, but instead just called a friend to have the directions recounted over the phone as I drove. I had been there once before, so it shouldn’t have been too tough. But the place is located in a canyon surrounded by mountains with winding roads, and surely enough I got confused or turned around at some point and wound up lost, driving in a big circle around the place I needed to be. I had no cell phone reception to call the person I was supposed to meet or the person who gave me directions, so finally I drove back out to cell-signal land and called. I got the refresher on the directions and headed back down into the trenches. I arrived forty-five minutes late, but probably only fifteen or twenty minutes behind the person I met, who’d also been lost. We conducted the panel and said good-bye to the kids, who wanted to know why I wasn’t going to eat cake on my birthday. I laughed and explained that the people I run around with seem to eat cake all the damned time!
Friday when I came home from work, I found a package waiting for me in my apartment. I had talked to Yuka about having her send me a space heater (for those nights that get down to 50 degrees—it’s a rough winter here in cali). She also included a new shower head which is really excellent. I read up shower head reviews about it, and it’s a really fancy one, too. I had to crouch a bit to stand under the old one, and the spray wasn’t very well-distributed. This one provides a wide, heavy flow to blast off the soot from working in the mines all day. There was also a present in the box, along with a note suggesting that I record myself opening it. I set up my camera and went about the business of opening the present, and upon review of the film, I saw that my face really lit up when I saw what was hidden by the wrapping paper:
Apparently my dad and my girlfriend had conspired to surprise me. My girlfriend knows that I have no clue where I’m going, and my dad can relate to the aversion to asking for directions. I imagine that if I’d purchased this item for myself, it would’ve paid for itself in a year of gasoline savings. Thanks guys =)
Anyway…I’m gearing up for the trip and trying to pick out gifts for my girlfriends parents that won’t make me look like an idiot. Wish me luck!
I drove to Northern California this weekend, once again. It’s becoming a habit. My brother and his family are buying a home in Tracy, California, on the far east edges of the bay area sprawl. It’s a nice home in a nice neighborhood. The boys will have a park just a block away and plenty of kids their age to play with. Little Marco already broke the fountain in the backyard. Poor guy.
My cousin James, the US Marine, came up from Oceanside (Camp Pendleton) to join me in the drive north. He and I ate at Musha, the Japanese tapas restaurant in Santa Monica where Yuka’s best friend from college works. I ordered a peach iced tea, only to learn after a sip that it was an alcoholic beverage. It tasted a lot like cough syrup. It was a bizarre experience for me, as it’s been nearly a decade since I’ve had any alcohol.
Anyway, life is good. It’s a little over two weeks until I head to Japan! I’m getting a bit nervous about meeting to folks. We’ll see how it goes…and I’ll have plenty of pictures, for sure!