Leaving on a Jet Plane

chris/ December 17, 2006

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!

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