Have I ever told you about my wife?
Today is entry #143 of my attempt to post a story and a picture every single day for one year. That number should be 145, but I missed a few days because I was too sleepy or too drunk to write. Posting a picture only is not a problem. I have 10s of thousands of images on my disk drives. The hardest part is sitting down in front of the computer and writing everything out. Some family members and friends who silently read these posts think that I am off my rocker for sharing all of this information. I never understood that. What is there to hide and why should it be hidden. Of course, there are many moments that I have't told you about because they either break someone else’s privacy or because society isn't ready to read the whole unedited story. What I've written over the last 143 days is a serialization of my own life. Some folks argue that I should write but keep it private, however, this public declaration has become a powerful motivation for me to continue. Knowing that at least one person is there reading gives me the power to take photographs and write stories. Though I don't expect many people to be interested in the details of my life, writing serves as a kind of catharsis. It’s also a kind of self-therapy. Actually, I'm not really writing anything. I use dictation to tell my stories and the computer writes it all down. Technology hasn't quite advanced enough to make it perfect, so the computer often gets it wrong. Editing becomes even more tedious then writing itself so, as you have noticed if you have been reading these, I could probably use the help of a good editor. It might be easier just to type out everything except I'm not good at typing. In high school, I was given the choice of taking a typing class or French and I chose French. If I think about it now typing would have been much more useful.
Ever since yesterday's post, I've been thinking about the women of my past. There haven't been that many. I met the woman I would eventually marry at the age of 23 and have been with her ever since. Honestly, I'm surprised I haven't been kicked out of the house long, long ago. Almost three decades with the same person is mind blowing. As one would expect from all of those years, the romantic side of our relationship faded away. The year Devon entered the world, was the year that I lost my lover. Naomi used to say that she was a mother now and not the same person. I thought it was nonsense and screamed to have my girlfriend back. It hurt deeply until the lonesome pain eventually faded into complacency. Despite the current tepidness of our physical relationship, our familial love is incredibly powerful and most definitely eternal. Unlike my dear spouse, I am a hopeless romantic and I love to shower people with affection and be showered with affection. I don't care how wrinkled or fat she gets over the years. The person I can see will always be the person she is inside.
At the age of 23, Naomi spotted me in a disco and made the first move. At that time, she was the most beautiful person in the world. She had short curly hair and was wearing a black dress with a very low cut back. She also had a smile that could cut through fog it was so bright. Even now, 28 years later, it’s still the most beautiful smile in the room. I am pretty sure I lost a lot of my own shine, along with my abs, as I aged. Maybe that's where the romance went.
On the night we met, Naomi was so radiant she seemed almost angelic. In those days, we didn't have cell phones. It cost ¥80,000 or so to have a landline installed in a house or apartment. So, I didn't have a home phone either. I wanted to give her something, so I gave her the number to the English school where I was working. Yes, I know I'm a weirdo. I have always been a weirdo. After I gave her the number I explained it was to my workplace and that she shouldn't call it. Believe it or not she still has the piece of paper with my number on it. She gave me her phone number. The last four digits, I still remember, were 5300. That seemed like an odd combination for a home phone. I left the club with low expectations of ever seeing Naomi again.
I was dating one of the Japanese exchange students at the time. Her name was Yuki. We had never hooked up while we were in school but when I came to Japan I somehow found her coming to my house every single day of the week from a very far distance just to hang out or help me to learn Japanese. Before I knew it, I was waking up next to her in the morning. I still don't know exactly how that happened. She was a very conservative girl from an extremely conservative family. Her mother was a homemaker, and her father was a professor at International Christian University. I remember the first time I went to Yuki's house. Her parents hated me. Her mom, apparently, promised to make dinner but did not want to make it for us. So, she served some fried rice that she had whipped up. Each bowl had about 3 tablespoons of rice each. That was dinner. I am not exaggerating. It was her passive aggressive way of protesting the fact that her daughter had brought home a foreign dude she had met while she was in America. Over time, her parents’ pressures and the fact that I was utterly broke caused Yuki to push away. She started coming over to my place less. Eventually, I only saw her once a month even though I had moved to within a few train stops away from her. I later found out she had met another guy. Eventually they got married. He seemed like a nice upstanding Japanese fellow. I went to the wedding and caught a glimpse of her mom looking at me with such smug satisfaction. I could see in her face that she was thinking, “thank God she didn't marry you.”
The day I met Naomi, I wanted to forget about Yuki. My friend Michael , who was a recruiter for a modeling agency, which also recruited models for porn, convinced me to go to Juliana Tokyo with him. In 1993, that place was notorious for being a meat market. Girls used to go there and proudly show off their body conscious dresses and thongs, which they called T-backs. Those were wild times because Japan was coming off of a massive economic boom. People were elated. They spent money like it was in endless supply. Decadence was the norm of the day. If you could talk a smooth enough game, it wasn't hard to leave the club with somebody.
Unfortunately, I was born bashful. I wrote this in previous posts, but it's been a struggle that I have had to deal with my entire life. The anxiety of being around others has never gone away. I've only gotten better at ignoring that feeling. In truth, it still comes in waves. Some moments are better than others . It’s like one day I love being in the party as the center of attention and the next day, I can't stand the buzzing energy of anxiety as I try to navigate social situations. If I were to consider myself insane, even slightly, this social anxiety, which I have had my entire life, would be the source of that insanity. So, I was never the smooth-talking ladies’ man. Any relationship that I had came about naturally. I can't think of a time when I saw a woman and thought, “I'm going to get her .” In fact, the more attracted I was to someone the weirder I became. It as if gremlins take a hold of my tongue and brain. Even now, not much has changed. that's why going to Juliana, locking onto a target, and acquiring that target just didn't really work for me. So, I went out on my own. Through the disco smoke Naomi appeared and asked if she could dance with me. The day I met Naomi was my second and last time going there. It was her first and last.
I loved how natural she was and how goofy she was. She didn’t seem to mind my oddness, which intensified my attraction to her. She had all of this beauty but none of the pretense that went with it. Maybe that came from being raised in the countryside. She grew up in a small town in Nagasaki surrounded by rice fields. Her parents both still live there in the house that she grew up in. They are kindhearted people who love simplicity although they hated me when they first found out about me.
Naomi and I had been dating for three years before we got married. A few months after we had met, she went on a business trip to New York City. Although I knew the date of her return I didn't know the flight number or the time, but I wanted to greet her at the airport. I went to Narita early in the morning and checked every flight coming in from New York. There was no email or Internet at that time. Everything was manual, so I had no choice but to go there and check or not go at all. It took hours of checking before I decided that I was being really stupid. “Who the hell does this?” I thought to myself. Just as I was ready to leave, I saw her come out of the security gate. Of course, she was astonished by my being there. In the airport limousine bus she kept asking me if I thought we would get married. All I could manage was, “Slow your roll honey. Slow your roll.” There were two American guys sitting behind me who thought it was the funniest thing they had ever seen. They knew that I had been cornered.
About 3 1/2 years later Naomi and I actually did get married. Before that, she started to live with me in my apartment. There was never a formal invitation. One day I just noticed all of her stuff was there and she was coming over every day and spending the night. She even bought an electric piano and kept it in my apartment. That piano was like a flag planted in a piece of land that hadn’t been claimed by anyone. It was her way of marking the territory. A year before we got married, she decided to tell her parents that she had been living with me. Up until that point she kept the dorm room that had been rented to her by her company. It was in the heart of the city and only cost ¥10,000 a month. Her parents would call and leave messages on her answering machine. She checked the messages from a payphone and called them back if needed. In this way, she kept her secret for two years. When they eventually found out they were very upset. They demanded that she leave my apartment immediately. They were convinced that I had somehow tricked her or that I had cast some voodoo spell on her. Naomi's grandmother used to tell her to never, under any circumstances, bring home a foreign guy. Oh well, sorry grandma.
One year later after she actually did move out to honor her parents’ wishes, she got pregnant, and we got married. Ironically our wedding date was July 5th which is the day after Independence Day in the United States. That made it an easy anniversary to remember. This year will be our 25th. Naomi’s parents eventually accepted me fully into the family. They were so wracked with guilt at how they had treated me that they showered me with gifts for years. I suppose the shame of asking your daughter to think about how black the baby is going to be as you pressure her into getting an abortion weighed heavily on their souls.
Devon was their first grandchild. From the moment they saw him, they loved him very deeply. All their negativity vanished like a bad oder after someone opens a window. It had always been Naomi’s father’s dream to become a doctor or dentist. After WWII, he lost his family and his opportunity to realize his dream. On the day Devon called them to announce he had gotten accepted to medical school, I could almost hear Naomi’s father crying tears of joy over the phone. Devon, the same fetus they didn't want at first, became their golden grandchild. Of course, they love all four of their grandchildren, including my daughter Desire.
Goodness this post is already gotten too long and there's still so much more to the story. I'll have to continue another time.
In the picture is Naomi holding the flowers, Yumi is to her left, and Vince to my right. I mention them in a post I uploaded two days ago. We are all about 27 years old.