She tried as hard as any of them to win the war and she picked her battles well…
It was the late eighties or early nineties, all the kids hanging out on the beach sporting jams and loud neon colors. I rocked a crazy neon pink shirt scattered with random newspaper clippings about surf heights and how ‘gnarly’ the waves were. There were a few curses words hidden on it, making it the epitome of cool in my little 10-year-old universe.
I was a little righteous bad-ass.
My bad-assery was short-lived though, mom taking it upon herself to destroy and deflate any illusions of coolness.
She pointed to one headline on the shirt, “Mom was right…”
There it was, clear as day, a headline positioned over my heart like she’d bought me slavery apparel. From then on, whenever she saw me in the shirt, she nodded and smiled, throwing it out there again, hoping to let it sink into my brain and grow like she was on-boarding me to a household corporate culture.
I continued to rock the shirt, trying to ignore the tiny headline, hidden among all the other lines scattered about the shirt, but whenever returning from the mischievous adventures of any average ten-year-old she was always there to remind me again:
“Mom was right…”
…And so the battle raged, her first volleys having damaged my ship, but my imminent teenage cannons eagerly prepping for return fire.
As a college student I ran off to Colorado to free myself from the reigns, to find my independence, strike it rich like all the other American vagabonds that head west for some perceived notion of enlightenment.
In an ironic twist of fate, Colorado was exactly where she’d run from New Jersey to blossom too…
I found myself a few year later at what might be considered an adult, still trapped under parental funding to aid medical insurance, something akin to a second rent, but with shitty levels of care. I gotten to the point where I couldn’t make ends meet and couldn’t exist in the world I’d grown up in without parental help and they were far to slow to remove themselves from the equation as their own parents might have.
Somehow, despite the distance, the strings were still attached. I’d need to quit the word I’d grown up in.
I cobbled together a plan with the girl (at the time). She was stuck in the same boat, our silly little coddled generation. We’d run away together like a Bruce Springsteen song and strike it rich on our own in Asia. The west had failed to enlighten us, but the far east could surely solve our woes.
I brought my hammer down upon the chains and shattered them, running fast and deep for Asia. We didn’t all make it over here, the girl needed to find her own path to enlightenment and I lost her somewhere along the way, keeping my rudder pointing east like a mad captain Ahab (or west-i-er, if you pay attention to flight patterns and don’t fly Emirates).
I washed up upon these shores without much knowledge of the place. I’d thrown a dart at a map with some relation to the ex (Korea, but edited for better surfing opportunities…and never tell a Korean they’re somewhat related to Japan).
Some come here as dedicated otaku, ready to bask in anime and maid-cafes. Some men come here for the pussy, seemingly possible for even the most hapless foreigner. Others come here for a quick dose of how the other half (of the world) lives.
I came here to escape mom and make my own way.
My first memories of Japan are getting angry at the toilet for shooting me in the face with water. I’m often intensely crabby about the whole place, but the whole thing, the whole 4 years (as of last week) have been my own. It’s been 100% mine, the trials, tribulations, insanity and joy have all been my creation, no strings attached…
…And it all started with a pink neon shirt…