Tag Archive | friends

Follow The Love

In Japan, you can find a variety of cafes which cater to your every whim, from fandom-based cafes with themes like Sailor Moon and My Little Pony, to animal cafes where you can dine with owls and rabbits, and even cuddle cafes where you can curl up next to a cute girl for an hour and just talk and relax.

Perhaps a trip to Japan is exactly what I need.

Today was probably the first day in a few days that I’ve felt like my cheerful self again, and I have no one to thank for it but myself and my own biology.

I can’t seem to properly convey my biological stresses, to begin with. It’s possible that I have a condition that throws my hormones out of whack, so when it’s almost that time when the hormone levels change, I have a change in needs as well. My craving for cuddles, my need to be kissed, knowing I’m going to be denied these things if I ask, it all made me feel so lonely and sad, which was probably also the hormones talking.

Then Libra and I were talking, and it got up to the topic of how I wanted to be cuddled. His reply was to say, “because you want a boyfriend, and I can’t be that for you.” We dropped the conversation, which was just as well since it was going nowhere, but I couldn’t figure out why it bothered me so much.

Today at work, I had more than enough time to dwell on my thoughts.

I took out a pad of paper and wrote down, “guys who would cuddle me,” then thought realistically about it and added, “if I lived with them and schedules allowed.” J was on that list, as we often sat side-by-side on his bed and watched an episode of a show we were working on, then I’d go down the hallway to my room. Then I wrote down Pete, because even though I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve platonically shared a bed, the fact remains that he is a bit affectionate.

Next I wrote down, “guys who would kiss me.” And again, J and Pete. I’m just talking about a peck on the lips or the cheek, a loving kiss that’s not lewd. I know J would ask for a kiss before I departed from visiting him, and I know Pete would kiss me again if I give him the chance.

“Guys who have said ‘I Love You’ in the past few days.” Pete said this to me, after a brief vent from me. I felt kinda bad that I vented to him in the early hours of his birthday, but I ignored his replies so I could focus on sleep, then replied with an “I love you too” sometime after waking. I have friends who aren’t that close to me, but who will still say “I love you” to their friends, and I’m not uncomfortable with it because you should feel that strongly about the people you surround yourself with. You should love your friends, you should make sure they’re alive and are trying to stay alive, you should care enough to pick them up when they’re down, you should keep them from harming themselves or others. If you don’t love your friends, are they just… there?

“Guys I would date or who would date me.” Well, that’s the fun part. J has already stated that he’s not interested in dating me, though he had considered it at one time. Pete would date me, I could be his primary this time around, since last time I was secondary when he had a fiancée (it was complicated, but it was polyamorous). I have nothing against Pete, I just can’t see myself dating him. After some time away from him, spent with my ex fiancé, Pete became one of my best friends because we stopped trying to make a complicated situation work, and friendship and understanding came naturally after that.

When I put it in writing, I realized something. I was bothered by Libra’s unwillingness to give me affection, not because I was still hoping that Libra would be in a relationship with me, but because I have guy friends who are affectionate towards me and one of us isn’t looking to date the other.

I was so bored at work, my mind had all of these ridiculous slippery slope arguments. If we hang out, I might think it’s a date, because I’m looking for a boyfriend. If we get dinner, we should get separate checks, that way I don’t get the wrong idea and think he’s trying to be my boyfriend by paying for my food. I should just buy food for myself at the grocery store, anyway, otherwise it might look like I’m a live-in girlfriend and not just his housemate and friend. I couldn’t help but giggle to myself, because that’s how the whole situation sounded to me.

I missed being woken up to him laying beside me at my back. I missed cuddling in general. And if I imagine anyone curled up next to me, the feeling of comfort is still the same. But in my saddest moments recently, I wasn’t looking to put a title on a relationship. I was looking for platonic physical acts to release some feel-good chemicals into my system.

For tomorrow, I decided to take myself to the duck pond. I asked Libra, who protested because geese are apparently vicious, so I canceled the plan for us to go on Sunday. I mean, it also seemed like going out on a date, which is forbidden! So I’ll spare him from listening to me talk about how Mom would sometimes bring us to the duck pond, and how one time we drove in and then turned around and left because some people were using it for a “date spot” (I didn’t see what happened, but I’m thinking it was more scandalous than just kissing). Libra had asked me to think of something else as well that would be worth his while, so I suggested going to the mall. I didn’t tell him I was going to take him to the go-kart track in the mall, but that sounds like a date, the fact that I wanted to race him in go-karts. Suddenly, hanging out with J at an archery range sounds more enjoyable, because at least we have an understanding that it’s not a date at this point.

A phrase echoed in my mind while I was still at work, and I considered doodling it on paper. Either, “follow the love,” or “go where there’s love,” or something along those lines. It doesn’t have to be romantic love, just the caring and affection. Go where you won’t feel lost or lonely. Speak to those who you know will listen. Everyone has some kind of issue going on in their life; if someone helps you get through your problem, try to return the favor.

But overall, follow the love.

Map out the love.

Be a beacon so others can find love.

And as always, love yourself before others. Know your needs and wants, and always remember that you deserve to be happy.

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Dark Side Of The Luna

I hit a low point recently, which prompted me to write a status message on Facebook that got me a small amount of attention.

It started with Libra, with arguing and everything else. Then after things calmed down, he suggested I should talk to a therapist because I sound depressed.

My status message on Facebook was to say that I know I’m not depressed, that depression just is. I know the reasons why I’m coming off as depressed, because I’m actually having emotions.

I mean, imagine spending months on a project you were passionate about, and the day before all your effort will be presented to an audience, your house burns down, you break a leg, your dog gets hit by a car, and your closest friends aren’t speaking to you. Imagine how you would feel in that situation: hopeless, helpless, confused, isolated, lost. Now imagine none of those things happened, you wake up the next morning and you don’t see the point of getting out of bed, and when you do you can’t eat breakfast because nothing seems vaguely appealing. You might have a five-minute commute to present your project, but it feels like a hike through the desert, and thats after you manage to get out from under the 100-pound weight that’s resting on your back. Not to mention, what is the point of making this presentation? What if no one attends, or what if they’re not paying attention? You would have wasted all those months, for nothing, so you figure that not presenting is the same as presenting your project, it’s all the same. You feel all of this, but you don’t know why, no one has said anything to make you feel like giving up, you haven’t seen anyone presenting your ideas ahead of you or in a catchier fashion. You feel this emotional weight that you can’t describe, because you have no reason to feel this way. That’s depression.

For me, I can list the reasons why I feel the way I do.

When asked about my needs, I figured out what I needed at a given time and told Libra. It reached a point where he didn’t want to try to meet my needs and said so.

Little by little, he’s become less affectionate with me. When I notice a change and bring it up, it’s “nothing personal,” he’s “not in the mood” at that time, “we’ve talked about this.” Each time he becomes less affectionate, I do take it personally, because I wonder what I did wrong, if I got too close, was too caring, or if I was too bitchy, too “crazy,” or what happened. Even if it’s just how he’s feeling towards me, or in general, I would like to know.

This morning when I woke up, I stayed in bed and thought about all the things I enjoyed about waking up next to him, and felt bad because the only way I’d have that is if I asked for it, in that moment, and he was willing to come upstairs to be with me. It’s like how the sun rises every day, it just happens and everything is radiant and beautiful, and then the day comes when you have to write to your congressman to ask for the Earth to rotate again because you miss sunny days, and eventually you get one sunny day after the whole bureaucratic process. It’s not the same as it was before. I want to wake up to him cuddling me, not because I want it, but because he wants to wake up cuddling me as well. Having to ask for it doesn’t fulfill the emotional need, it just reminds me that he made the conscious decision to not care about my needs, all the while ignoring when I’m trying to anticipate his needs because I can’t turn it off.

I went downstairs, and he could tell something was bothering me. When he asked, I said I was fine, that nothing bothered me. He persisted, knowing that something was wrong. What’s the point in telling him? If I write it down or type up an email, he’ll skim over it and ignore it. If I tell him directly, he’ll cut the conversation short, or he’ll tell me it’s nothing and I’m taking it personally, or he’ll “remind” me that we’ve been over this.

I need to move out. Unfortunately, it costs more to live on my own, and I don’t have anyone else who’d be willing to take me in at the moment. But I can’t “get over” him, as long as I’m still here. And I can’t distance myself without him trying to figure out why I’m barely speaking to him or whatever. I am kept at arms’ length; he pushes me away if I get too close, and gets close when I’m trying to be away. If I tell him what he did that bothered me, he tells me he’ll stop but he says it like I offended him, which makes me feel bad because I wasn’t trying to upset him, I just didn’t want to deal with something that bothered me and asked for his understanding.

I know he has a lot going on in his life, which is why I try to do things like buying groceries, picking up things I know he might use or need so it’s one less thing to think about. But I can’t just put aside my emotions for him. There is no one in my circle who is like, “yeah, I’ve got this going on, but Marybeth really needs someone right now, she needs a night out, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen.” I have the people who are like, “we should hang out sometime,” which means we’re not likely to hang out anytime soon unless we’re both absolutely free at a given time and are willing to go out.

So, I have to focus on myself, on what I’m feeling, on what I need. I have to focus less on what he needs, because he can take care of himself.

And that’s bullshit, it really is. I’m just supposed to put up boundaries? I’m supposed to say, “I went to the grocery store, and the food I bought is for me, so please don’t touch it.” I’m supposed to wash only the dishes I’ve used, and only touch my laundry as it’s being done. I’m supposed to isolate myself in my room because there’s books I have yet to read and movies I want to watch, instead of spending time with him and keeping him company and in good spirits. It’s bullshit, because doing stuff for him always made me feel good, and I would happily accept the affection as payment because at least he was doing something for me in return. Now I wonder why I do it, if I’ve been too nice, if I haven’t done enough, or if I’ve really done something wrong.

I haven’t done anything wrong, I know this.

I firmly hope for someone to come along who will make me feel like I can’t do enough for them, not because they make me feel guilty for the things I haven’t done, but because they will react so warmly to the effort I’ve put forth. Like, if I ever manage to burn dinner, or even if some part of it gets screwed up, I want someone who’s going to either say or think, “wow, you did all this for me?” and then say, “you know what? It’s okay. Let’s just use this as an excuse to go to that restaurant we’ve been talking about lately.” Or maybe I just mention a concert I want to see, or a movie that’s coming to theaters soon, and they get tickets and we go together, and I feel blessed to have someone in my life who encourages my passions that I return the favor, even if it means sitting through a football game or something else that I have only a small interest in. And it doesn’t have to involve money changing hands, it could just be a foot rub at the end of the day, or drawing a bath, or doing a chore I need to finish while I’m busy with another chore. I’m not asking for someone to do everything while I do little to nothing, I want someone to take care of me because I take care of them.

I thought that was Libra, I thought my life was going to be balanced. I was wrong, but I’ll learn from this mistake.

Things I Hold Onto

After a little over three months of knowing him, Libra and I have reached a point where we care about each other, but it won’t go beyond that.

For the past week, I’ve been dealing with figuring out what I want out of this now. He wanted physical space, I gave him that plus emotional distance. I have shut off the part of my heart that felt like we could have been something special, that everything I was willing to give could and would be reciprocated.

I wish Mom was still around. All I have is a mess of boxes to show of the life I had with her, which Libra and I made a special trip to New Jersey just to get all of those boxes. Now they’re consuming the entrance to the house, this wall of boxes that keeps me from my TV and therefore my ability to play video games and just forget about life for a while.

The boxes have been an issue between Libra and I, though I’m not completely against the idea of parting with many of the things I possess. The problem is the difficulty in actually parting with things.

There’s porcelain dinnerware that I could use for special occasions… except I’d be nervous about breaking a piece or scratching it somehow. So I should sell it off and not worry about it… but I worry that I’ll accept less than what the set is worth, and the buyer will resell it and make a profit.

There are items I insisted on keeping because they were aesthetically pleasing to me… some of which I know that Mom and Grandma would have reminded me of who owned that item and how long it had been in our family. I don’t remember any of those stories. I also don’t know if I’ll ever use or need some of the things I kept.

There are collectible toys, and t-shirts, and things that I bought as retail therapy while I lived in New Jersey, because I had the money and I had no one telling me I shouldn’t have these things. And as I go through the boxes, little by little, I’m happier when I uncover something I packed from my childhood home instead of things I packed from New Jersey.

Overall, it’s emotionally overwhelming, realizing that I will have to permanently part with more than just what I’ve decided to part with, that there are some things I will never have again because… because… I can’t come up with a good enough reason. I could buy certain things again, I could get married and have a porcelain dinner set on my registry that I might enjoy more, if I even think I would use it. I could buy more Funko Pop figures, I could buy more t-shirts, I could fill my closet and my walls with things that… look good.

Well, there are some things that cannot be replaced. I found a notebook that my Mom had used to copy her diary into. I took a break from working the boxes, and spent the next hour or two reading every line. The diary mentioned my father in a few places, but most of it seemed to be about this guy named Joe. Mom was clearly in love with Joe. My Dad, however, had been an on-again, off-again guy that she dated, who seemed to be a bit more possessive and into my Mom when he started to come back into her life, though she was still more interested in Joe. And while everyone else seemed to give her cards and such for one birthday, my Dad gave her a bouquet of sweetheart roses, when he wasn’t even her main squeeze at the time.

I kept looking at the reusable shopping bag that I put Mom’s jewelry box into, and I didn’t want to deal with it until today. Most of the jewelry is costume jewelry, nothing I really want but I found a few pieces I might keep. There was also a photo of Mom with another guy, and I had an issue pulling it out of the section it had been set into because the photo was laminated. Once I lifted it free with the use of a brooch, I turned over the photo. Mom often wrote who was in the photo on the back side, usually writing the date as well. On the back was written Joe’s name along with my Mom’s name.

I can’t question why she still had a photo of an ex, as I still have physical photos of my exes. It made me wonder, however, how much time was spent wondering if she had made the right choice to marry my Dad, or if maybe things would have been better with Joe, because I don’t know how things ended between my Mom and Joe at all.

It’s strange, and yet oddly comforting. I feel like my Mom’s love life is reflected in mine right now. Libra is my Joe, the guy who seemed amazing just to talk about him, but he’s not the guy I’m going to end up with.

If there was one hard-to-swallow pill from a year ago, it would be that I should just live my life and deal with the here and now. Living in the here and now got me to living with J, which broke my heart because I hoped there was something there. Living in the here and now brought me here to live with Libra, which broke my heart because I wanted more than he wanted to give me. But living with Libra is forcing me to deal with things I didn’t want to deal with, which I seem to need to do. And if I can sell my things and make enough money, I can go where I still feel I’m meant to be.

I’m going to meet my Japanese friend.

Okay, I’m going to Japan. Meeting my Japanese friend would be a bonus, and yes I hope it happens, and that this is the fairy tale part of my tale. He’s been in my life since about a week or so after things ended with the ex fiancé, and he dealt with me going insane while I was sleeping on my friend’s couch. He introduced me to Japanese entertainment that hadn’t been presented to me before, such as Downtown and Kyosuke Himuro, and to this day I listen to Himuro like it’s melodic comfort food because it’s a part of me now.

He spoke to me through songs, he wanted me taking care of myself when I was at my worst, he stayed in the background while I lived with other guys. I had to do what was best for me, and I feel like I hurt him in the process. But what have I been doing the whole time? I’ve been shopping at Asian supermarkets, buying books to understand how Japanese people think and how they handle romantic relationships, and I’ve basically been low-key preparing myself for a life with him. After all of that, I don’t want to go to Japan solely to meet my Japanese friend, I want to go because I want to go. If I don’t get the guy, maybe I’ll get someone else, or maybe I’ll just live and do what makes me happy.

Whatever happens, I now have a diary of my own, where I talk about the guys who had my heart and what became of them.

So I Wrote A List And Went To A Party

After J started dating his current girl, I channeled my emotions through pen onto paper. I sat down and wrote a list, or three lists, dealing with what I wanted in love and the lustful side as well, not to mention what I hoped to find in a partner.

The list wasn’t done in one day, nor did I intend for it to be so quickly compiled and absolutely written.

It started with things that were definite, like I definitely want a guy with fair skin, and eyes that can hold my gaze. I definitely want to be in a relationship and not a casual fling, I definitely want to be with someone who has much in common with me but is still different and makes up for what I lack.

I added to the list as I lived. I read about Japanese relationships, about how Japanese women have no moves in bed, and how some Japanese guys get startled when foreign girls actually do stuff or how they wish their Japanese women would do more than stay still. So in the list of lust, I wrote, “If I’m expected to lay there and do nothing, then I expect to be tied up and/or tied down. Just saying.”

As I added items to the list, I thought more about what I wanted, things I haven’t had in a relationship, things that seem old fashioned but that were probably still being done in the 1980s or so. For example, I wrote down that I would like to receive flowers, just not for Valentine’s Day when they’re marked up in price, and not after an argument because it doesn’t actually fix the issue. But after I wrote that, I realized it contradicted my statement about only wanting a guy to buy me things I need, even though gifts and such would still be appreciated. But it also reminded me of the ex fiancé, how he would buy roses for me at the Renaissance Faire, so I added that I didn’t want to get roses just because a guy feels like he has to since “that’s what guys do,” I wanted a guy to buy me flowers because he knows I like flowers or he sincerely feels like buying flowers.

My intention was to reach a point where I felt the list was fairly complete, that I had considered as many factors from my life as I possibly could, from turn-ons to annoyances and everything in between. At that point, I figured I would give the list to J, because either it’s all coincidence or he has a fairly decent command of the universe and the energies held within and all of that stuff that I can barely explain because I don’t know how he does it. Then again, I’ve had my own moments since moving in here, which I assumed were because of things I told him about and he made good things happen for me. Well, J never saw the list, at least not yet.

One thing is for certain, which is to say I realized J isn’t the right one for me. There are things about him I wished were different, which is normal, but I feel like he won’t be someone I really want to spend the rest of my life with.

J’s girlfriend said she might stop by after work on Friday, so J was hoping I’d be a little more social and actually talk to her. Well, my best friend, whose birthday falls five days before mine and who was born about five years after me, was having her party on Friday. I never told J about the party, not only because I figured he would probably choose to stay home, but because I didn’t even know if I was going to go. With J’s girlfriend coming over, and me waking up from a  weird and horrible dream that really got me down, the only right thing to do was to go to this party, drink something with alcohol, and try to neither sit in the corner or monopolize the party by drawing attention to myself.

I came home from work, and within 20 minutes I put the dog out and changed my clothes. There was a goth theme to the party, and while I’ve never been a goth, I have shopped at Hot Topic once or twice. I put on my black skirt from the Ren Faire, then paired it with a lacy spaghetti-strap tank top which was also black. I was going to wear a black cardigan, but my Pokemon hoodie had pockets which everything else was lacking, and it too was black. I added a beaded cross necklace and feather earrings, which did come from Hot Topic, and my outfit was complete. I could have spent more time making myself pretty, but this is just a party at my friend’s place, where everyone is either already attached or wouldn’t be interested in me anyway, so I was safe to just enjoy myself. After all, I wasn’t going to the party to meet people, I was going there to spend time with a friend I don’t often see, and she couldn’t care less about how I was dressed or groomed… within reason, of course.

When I got there, I couldn’t park in the small lot where I parked last year. So I called my friend to ask her where it was best to park, and she said in front of her place, that I could just park behind the little pickup truck that looked as if it was built from random parts of other trucks. It was dubbed the Frankentruck, and its owner couldn’t prevent the teasing. It reminded me of the Johnny Cash song where he talks about walking off with all of these various car parts and then has assembled them into a vehicle of mixed years and such.

After I parked behind Frankentruck and came inside, I found a seat in the living room near Frankentruck’s owner. He was a guy about my age, fair skin, dark hair, wearing a black dress shirt with white and reddish-brown stripes. From that point, the timeline got blurry. We shared a few laughs, I helped him make more of the mixed drink he made for the party, it was a good time.

At one point while sitting beside him, his fingers started stroking my hand. Eventually, his fingers linked mine. I don’t even remember when we started kissing, but we did, seated next to each other while party people were partying next to us in the living room.

My car followed the Frankentruck back to his place, but not before my friend sang the praises of this guy who I just met. Before that, I had to ask if she could assist me in my need for feminine hygiene products, because I was self conscious and unprepared for any outcome other than going straight home after the party. But it was after 4 in the morning, and I didn’t feel tired, but sleep was probably the smartest thing I could have done at that point.

Yeah, sleep.

I slept face down next to him, and was comforted by his hand stroking my back every so often. When I woke up, I was still under the same blanket as he was, still laying beside him and touching, which seemed hard to believe because I’m used to guys saying they get too warm laying beside me. I hadn’t considered that, but mentally I added that to my list, that it would be nice to sleep beside someone who didn’t feel overheated beside me.

It was at one point, when I realized I was focused on his eye color as much as I was focused on just staring at the edge of his contact lenses, that I recalled my list item that said something about having eyes that held my gaze. And, check.

In fact, while we sat in my car the next day, he checked off a few more things. He replaced the windows in his house, by himself? Knows home repair, check. His talk about car repair checked off the item where he would need more skill than I have. He mentioned going out to see live music at a bar, and I knew I found someone who wants to go out and do things instead of just staying at home watching movies and tv shows.

Within 22 hours, he went from being this guy who I never met before (that I’m aware of, so far) to being the kind of guy I’m clearly looking for in life.

And yes, from the time I arrived at the party, to the moment I left his place, I had spent 22 hours with him. If he didn’t have plans for later that evening, and if I wasn’t worried about dealing with J because I hadn’t returned home and was therefore postponing the grocery shopping until the evening, I don’t think I could have left his side. I could have cuddled him forever, gently running my fingers through his hair. I could have talked with him about anything, the conversations seemed to flow endlessly, I was never bored, I was enlightened and I could contribute my knowledge and opinions freely and it would only enrich the conversation and bring about more knowledge from him. And as for kissing and all else, I can’t begin to describe how perfect all of that feels with him, and yet if I couldn’t be in his presence to kiss him and such, I know there is still more to him that I’m seriously admiring right now.

I felt love for him before we shared his bed, before we left my friend’s house, after we had been kissing. I could see myself sitting beside him, embracing him warmly and tenderly, nothing even remotely sexual about it. But it’s too soon to feel that way, or to even call it that, right?

I am so very scared.

It all feels too perfect.

I’m waiting for fate to give me the punchline to this cosmic joke. It feels like fate is saying, “No joke this time, go for it.”

But if I go for it, what if I say or do the wrong thing, and it fails?

Ah, but what if everything I do or say isn’t so bad?

What if I’m everything on his list as well?

Road Trip Part Three (Amore And More? Part Four)

Our story so far involves J dating again, and in response I planned a trip to meet a guy I’ve known a while but only online. As part of the trip, I figured I would stop in Edgewater, NJ so I could go to Mitsuwa Marketplace once again.

After my stop to the bookstore and the shop that sells almost everything else you would want from Japan, I headed into the supermarket. My goal was to only buy things I wanted or might need, things that I couldn’t easily get in Syracuse at one of the local Asian grocery stores, and since I was far from home I couldn’t get anything that required some kind of refrigeration.

I got some makings for okonomiyaki, such as the powdery nori (basically seaweed sprinkles) and fried flour bits (think of it as tiny batter drippings that are fried). The special okonomiyaki flour was about the same price as what I pay around here, so there was no point in buying more.

There are hard candies flavored like some of Suntory’s beverages such as Dekavita C and CC Lemon, which I first bought from Mitsuwa though I never tried looking for some of the other beverage flavors. I couldn’t buy any more CC Lemon while I was there, but I did get another bottle of Dekavita C, and I found the cherry drink and the honey and lemon drink that are also featured flavors of the hard candies. The cherry drink was good, but of course I enjoy the hard candy as well.

I found Hello Kitty Pasta! Unlike the Rilakuma spaghetti I’ve purchased previously (which I didn’t find this time), the Hello Kitty pasta is shaped like Hello Kitty and flowers. It was $4, and it’s not even a pound of pasta, so I’m not sure if I want to eat it or keep it around for looks.

About $75 later, once it was all back home and in the pantry and elsewhere, I was asking myself what I bought. And yet, it’s been two weeks and I still haven’t consumed all of it.

Before I got back to the car, I got myself something for lunch. Previously when I’ve visited Mitsuwa, I was in the mindset that I only lived about 40 minutes away so there was easily a next time and it could be sooner than I could imagine. With that mindset, it didn’t matter what I bought to eat for lunch, because I’d be back again to try something else. This time, since it had been over a year since the last time I was at Mitsowa (which is hard to believe that time really passed that quickly), I figured that I had to get something worth the visit. I paced from one eatery to the next, trying to figure what I wanted. I settled on ramen, but I went for the combo that included natto. Oh yes, I was going for natto.

From what I’ve gathered, natto is pretty much the Vegemite of Japan. It’s an acquired taste that is seldom enjoyed by foreigners. Let me put it this way: imagine you’re eating beans, like kidney beans, but they’re in a sauce that requires fermentation… oh, and the sauce looks like the thin, stringy slime they use in movies depicting alien lifeforms. Natto is supposed to have a strong scent, from what I’ve heard, but my natto served on rice and topped with green onions was rather mild in taste and aroma. Surprisingly, I enjoyed it, and ended up not finishing my ramen because I just couldn’t eat anything else.

But then I got dessert on my way out the door, most of which traveled back to Syracuse with me. I ate the coffee jelly when I got to the storage unit, which was dumb of me because it was topped with ice cream. I knew it was topped with ice cream. For whatever reason, my brain thought it would be fine to wait that long before eating it. The ice cream was soup, of course, but it didn’t make a mess and was quite tasty as anticipated.

At the storage unit, it was lightly raining. As I packed the car, it seemed like a lot of things I had in storage were affected by the moisture in the air, as boxes seemed slightly damp and such. Well, my goal is to empty out the storage unit by the end of this year, maybe, so aside from a  few things I desperately wanted to get out to make sure they survived, I just loaded up the car with whatever was nearby. Within an hour, I was back on the road, and this time I was heading for home.

The whole trip was exhausting, but exciting. And I did find love, as I had hoped.

It wasn’t for my date, which I’m sorry to say and yet I don’t regret it. Being around him feels like being around my exes, which is only a bad thing because I wouldn’t be giving him the chance that Mr Smith probably deserves. And yet, maybe it’s just my inner workings being hyper vigilant and trying to avoid a repeat of the past, a past where I wasn’t happy, where the relationship I had really wasn’t what I wanted.

If anything, the love I found was for myself. I focused on what I wanted and what I needed to do. I did what made me happy. And I told people about it, because I wanted them to know that I found something that made me happy and they might enjoy it as well. I did things so that I wouldn’t walk away with regrets, or at least that I could say I tried. I met Mr Smith, and I had been wanting to meet him for a while, but now I know I like him as a friend and I don’t want to lose that. I tried natto. Heck, I spoke three words of Japanese to a vendor, which always made me nervous because I never wanted to assume that any Asian person was Japanese or could speak Japanese (and yes, it was a positive experience, or so it seemed).

Maybe it’s for the best if J’s house is just my home base for now. I can’t imagine it’s going to help my love life, as potential suitors might think J and I already have some kind of relationship and they might decide to not invest much time with me. But maybe I’m not supposed to be in love with anyone here, not even J. Maybe J exists to keep me from feeling lonely, to get me back on my feet and figure out where my life should go from here.

And maybe there’s an adventure in my future, a trip to Japan and not just a Japanese restaurant or supermarket. Why do I feel like I’m being called there?

And why have I really been brought back here to Syracuse? Because I could do without living with an unrequited love while he dates someone else. I never would have remembered I had a thing for him if I hadn’t moved back here. But I do have a good environment now, where I can think critically about anyone in my life. I know that J isn’t perfect, Mr Smith isn’t perfect, even J’s date isn’t all that wonderful.

Since I do have love for J, I do want him to be happy, and if it’s with his date and not me, it might be for the best. After all, getting tied down with J would only keep me in Syracuse. If I’m meant to be in Japan, then I need to be ready and willing for the opportunity when it comes my way.

So that was February, or at least the major parts of it. My birthday comes at the end of this month, and hopefully something exciting will happen between now and then. If not, I’ll find something to get excited about. Mark my words.

Road Trip, Day Two! (Amore And More? Part Three)

Previously, J started to date a new girl, and as a result I sent a message to a longtime internet friend who I hadn’t met before. After a four hour drive, I was at his front door. We ate sushi before driving into Connecticut to play mini golf and walk around a mall for a bit. After that, I drove him back home and headed for my hotel.

My logic for hotels was that I wasn’t going to make a reservation, that asking for a room in the evening and leaving in the morning would earn me a reduced rate. Maybe that would work under normal conditions, but I was trying to get a hotel room between Valentine’s Day and the weekend that followed.

Not to mention, the hotel itself had a view of the Hudson River, as it was next to the Hudson River. My room had a view of the shopping plaza I had to go through before I got to the entrance to the hotel itself, but I wasn’t there for the view anyway. No, I drove to the Comfort Inn in Edgewater, New Jersey, because it was supposed to be my cheapest option and it was closest to Mitsuwa.

When I booked my room, the only option I had was two queen beds. I’m fairly certain I had the last available room in the hotel for the night, but I can’t complain because I did have a room. I was in room 111, but my mind didn’t think of the video game Fallout 4 at the time, all I could think of was the numerology significance. Three 1’s is a good, positive number. Four 1’s would be better, but I’m not about to suggest that my room number wasn’t good enough. Anyway, I carried in all my stuff and put it on one bed, then went here and there while in the process of settling for the night. I checked in around 8 pm, but it was almost 10 before I forced myself to sit down with my can of pasta because I was starting to get a headache from not having eaten since sushi. It was at this point that I realized I forgot to pack anything remotely resembling a bottle opener, so my bottle of sparkling apple juice went unopened. The can of pasta had a pull tab, so I didn’t need a can opener, but I didn’t bother to bring a dish to use in the microwave. And yes, my room had a microwave. But I considered it more of an emergency ration to have a can of pasta in the first place, though I was thankful I had the foresight to pack it regardless because I was exhausted.

I turned the TV on and watched the Olympics while eating the pasta from the can. It was a good day.

I woke up the next morning, and I woke up, and I woke up. The bed was too firm and the pillows were too soft for my liking. I kept having dreams that I couldn’t remember. It was just before 7 when I texted J and told him that I hadn’t slept well, but I would try to get more sleep in. About 15 minutes later, I texted him again and said it wasn’t to be, that there was too much noise in the main hallway to get back to sleep. I was in the main hallway, four rooms away from the front lobby. Not only was it just noisy enough to keep me awake, I also had a song stuck in my head.

A couple days before departing, I asked J if he wouldn’t mind giving me a wakeup call and playing guitar for me since I would be missing out on that by being out of the house. He said no, but agreed to send me recordings he’s made of songs he has covered. I chose a couple of songs, which he sent to my email. However, none of my chosen songs were Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, a cover of a song by The Flaming Lips. So I was playing the original version on YouTube while J sent me a link to the cover he made. I played both versions before I rolled out of bed and got dressed and such.

In fact, I mostly played my Japanese music while getting ready for the day. It was my thought that I would set a certain mood for myself, because I was heading to my favorite Japanese supermarket, Mitsuwa Marketplace. And I told myself that maybe I would find love while I was there.

Well, there was an Asian family of four that ate breakfast at the table next to mine at the hotel, and as I was leaving, they were taking pictures near the row of bushes that framed the spot where I parked my car. So the first love I found was the familial love between parents and children. It might not have been the romantic love I was looking for, but it was love and I found it right there in front of me.

After breakfast, I did a final check of the room, even cleaning up after myself so it would be a little less work for housekeeping. I don’t think I left anything behind, but I really didn’t unpack much, either.

I checked out of the hotel, which was basically just telling the front desk that I was checking out since I had already paid for the bill when I checked in. Then I drove to Mitsuwa, where I had my choice of parking spots because the parking lot was empty.

It was 9:30 am, and if anything, only the grocery store was open.

I have a ritual that I start with the Kinokuniya bookstore, then Little Japan USA, and THEN I go into Mitsuwa. And the other stores opened at 10 am, so I had a half hour to wait. I took some pictures of the Hudson, and of the store fronts. I wrote to my Japanese friend about the trip so far, but he was being a man of few words. Finally, I think I walked into the bookstore at 10:01, not entirely sure if they were really opening for the day or still preparing to do so, but I was running out of ways to pass the time.

One of the books I got at the bookstore is called The Japanese Mind. I’ll have to write about it later, because it’s been interesting to read.

In Little Japan USA, I got a lucky bamboo and two gatcha balls with black cats playing instruments. For some reason, I was called to get the bamboo, like something in me said I had to have it. I’m actually surprised I’ve kept it alive for two weeks so far, as I’m not usually good with plants.

As for the supermarket itself, I set a rule that I would only buy things I absolutely wanted or needed, that didn’t need refrigeration (especially not if something needed to be kept frozen), that I couldn’t get in the Syracuse area. How did I do? Unfortunately I have to save that for next time.

Road Trip, Day One! (Amore And More? Part Two)

When we last left our heroes, J was dating, I was emotionally overwhelmed during his first date, and I wrote to an old friend who I haven’t yet met in person to see if he would like to meet. Unfortunately my friend said he was seeing someone, so I had to keep moving forward with life.

The next day, my friend (who we’ll call Mr Smith) wrote to me and said that he had called it off with the girl he was seeing. After that, we started making plans to meet.

Since the drive was so long, a stay in a hotel seemed like a good move for me. Actually, the long drive would put me fairly close to my storage unit in New Jersey, so the intelligent move was to not waste the distance I had traveled by just having a pleasure cruise. And as much as I’d have been grateful for the assistance, I had to turn down Mr Smith’s offer to help me load the car at the storage uni, mainly because I’d lose hauling capacity but I’d also have to go out of my way by a couple of hours to take him back home.

The week after I had first planned to visit, we were making plans for me to actually visit. However, I kept watching the weather, and the weather kept getting colder and snowier for my area. When the day came that I would have otherwise been heading out, the weather wasn’t perfect but it wasn’t bad. However, I was far from prepared because I had been anticipating precipitation, and opted not to pack or anything. He teased me and urged me to drive out anyway, asking what I really needed to bring with me. I kept my feet planted, because I knew if I rushed around to pack, I would definitely forget something.

I had another “weekend” the following week, and this was going to be my last chance, or so it seemed, because my days off were going to be separated again. Leading up to that date, I told Mr Smith that I had a little something happen to me, and asked if he could plan to not share the hotel room with me. He was fine with it, so while I knew that meant I’d have to foot the entire cost of the hotel, that also gave me flexibility as to where I wanted to stay.

And when I mapped out where I needed to be on this trip, the gears started turning. It was going to be an awesome trip, no matter what happened.

Thursday morning, the very day after Valentine’s Day, I set the alarm for and woke up at 6 am. I figured I would be cute and go down the servants stairs, but without any lighting, I missed the last step before the landing and, well, I landed on my knees. I’m still surprised I didn’t smack my face into the wall or land on my hands. I effortlessly got to my feet and continued down the stairs, but my thud was enough to make J ask if I was all right. I couldn’t be cute, or at least I couldn’t be quite as cute at that point.

I made him coffee, I made me coffee. I ate breakfast with him, catching a glimpse of the morning routine that I usually only heard from my room if I woke up before I wanted to be awake. Then I bid him farewell as he left for work, and I finished preparing for the two days I’d be away.

I was sure I had everything I needed. I had two pairs of jeans, despite the fact that I could have worn the same pair for both days and no one would have known. I had two shirts to choose from for Friday, or one could have been a spare if need be. I had at least three pairs of underwear, just in case my monthly visitor decided to riot against my toiletry of choice for such incidents. I had two or three pairs of socks packed, because who knows what could happen. I packed a bottle of sparkling apple juice, which I was going to share in the hotel to be cutesy and romantic, but the thought of just being fancy while I unwound for the night was equally appealing. I packed a can of pasta, a started bag of cheese curls, and two pudding cups, just in case I was hungry and needed to eat but didn’t want to spend money or didn’t want to put in the effort of finding food to buy. I packed a bottle of water, just in case I needed it for anything. I packed reusable shopping bags, in case I needed them when getting things out of storage. I grabbed my purse with my portable video game things, just in case I wanted to play on my Nintendo 3DS or my Sony PS Vita while in the hotel or something. I put everything by the door and took a picture of all the things I was taking with me for an overnight trip, and as I took that picture, I remembered I still had to grab a charging cable for my cell phone.

It was about 10 am when I was finally rolling out, so I told Mr Smith to expect me around 2. I stopped to the ATM to get cash for the trip, especially since I knew it would be so much easier to pay for gas. Oh, gas for the car, that would have been a brilliant idea. I had half of a tank full, so I figured I’d see how far I could get. I ended up having to stop in some place called Beaver Kill, where I put $20 in the tank and left before I could hear the banjos.

After I arrived, we talked for a bit, then we headed out for sushi. The place where we went to eat was empty, but in all fairness it was mid afternoon. We were served promptly, then we paid and headed into Connecticut. No, it wasn’t a long drive to Connecticut, it was like driving to the next town over. We played miniature golf at a place that was decorated with a monster theme and glowed in the dark. Since he had already told me it was glow in the dark golf, I prepared by wearing a shirt that has a design that appears when it glows. It was the perfect choice, and it made his day when he saw it. After that we walked around a nearby mall, but the later we stayed there, the more I could tell the coffee was wearing off and I had been awake for too long. I got him back to his house in one piece, and by that I mean I was in one piece, as it was dark and I couldn’t navigate the area as well as he could. When I had first arrived I got to meet his dad, and when I brought him back I got to meet his mom, and they’re both really nice people who probably think I’m insane for driving 4 hours to meet their son.

Maybe the insane thing I did involved driving through the outer part of the Bronx, then crossing the George Washington Bridge to get to my hotel. I could have stayed at a hotel where I would be 5 minutes away from my storage unit, but I chose a hotel that would be 5 minutes away from a stop I had to make because it was so close to my route. All I had to do was add the stop to my route.