Monday, August 22, 2005

I may have eaten raw horse…

I’m getting the feeling that one of the things they must look for in the interviews is an ability to be happy even when you are not in control of your immediate destiny.

I find it funny that in the past I’ve had problems being content and out of control at the same time, but here I’m doing just fine. I still don’t like it. I don’t like being taken care of because I’m helpless, but think I’m dealing with it well.

OK, so Friday I arrive, Saturday I work. Saturday night everyone goes out to dinner both for a “Goodbye to Marco” and “Welcome Kori” dinner. Excellent. For some small stroke of luck/ miracle I’m not particularly jet lagged or tired. So dinner with teachers and students sounds good. It’s yaki niku. Someone else orders for the table. It’s interactive dinning where you roast one little piece at a time, kinda like fondue crossed with barbeque. It’s delicious.

check out this yakiniku link:

Afterwards most people were going to a ‘dance bar.’ I would have liked to go but I was worried about catching the last train home. So Marco and three or four of the students whip out their cell phones to check the train schedules and start discussing how to get me home. It’s decided that one of my students (my age, I don’t remember his name…) will drive me to a intermediate station. I can get home on my own from there. OK

Sure enough, I get to my station with out any trouble. and now the adventure… I can’t quite remember how to get from the station (Shinkoiwa, if anyone’s curious) to my apartment. I know it’s about a fifteen minute walk and I’m still in my working heels. But that’s OK. I have a good idea how to get there. … I think.

Now, I only arrived yesterday, so I only walked from the station to my apartment once before. Unfortunately for me, I got lost on the way to the station in the morning, so my frame of reference is limited. But that’s OK, I can do this.

I shift my backpack, stand up straight and think to myself, “I’m a fucking rockstar, I can do this.”

So, I start walking down what I think might be my street. The streets don’t have easily identifiable names or signs, so what I think may be my street is based on a reference to the station and major buildings… I see things like a dry cleaners or a convenience store and keep trying to comfort myself that they look familiar. Sure, there may be a dry cleaning shop every two blocks on any street, but I want to believe. It’s now after midnight so most of the trains have stopped running. This means that there are groups of drunken Japanese men walking home. and while there is no hope of me ever ‘blending in’ my heals clunking down the street aren’t helping. I remind myself that Japan is a very crime-free country.

As much as I may try and deceive myself, I am not on my street. Things are looking hopelessly unfamiliar… so my choices are turn around or try to cut across to another street. Against my better judgment, I cut over to the next street. I think I’m going in the right direction… maybe.

clunk clunk clunk. my feet hurt. I’ve been in heels all day and this little trek isn’t a happy thing for my feet. I have a pair of flat dressy shoes in my backpack. I want to stop to change my shoes but I don’t want to draw any more attention to myself.

I turn again, still walking away from the station, on a parallel street to the one I started on. Something’s got to look familiar soon right…. It’s now 12:30am.

I find the edge of a park. I’m so lost and tired and hungry. But, I will not give up (and then what?). I change my shoes, which helps a little but not much. Fine. I’ll go back to the station and see if I can get a better bearing on things….

So I head back, nothing looks familiar this direction either. I get back to the station no problem. Thank god for a mild sense of direction!! Cavassing and field managing was good for something!

OK, back at the station (12:45). I can find my way from here…. But nothing looks familiar anymore. Every street looks wrong. I’m trying not to panic. So, I come to a brilliant plan. I’ll take a cab home. Sure, they’re expensive but I’d give my first born child to be home and collapsed in my bed. OK. OK. I can do this. I need to remember some Japanese for this…. but OK. So I take out my papers with my address written on it and ask the cab driver if he knows where it is.

He says he can’t help me.

OK. OK. OK. OK. It’s OK. It’s 1AM but I can do this. I’m a fucking rockstar, right? So, I start wandering around again, looking for a familiar sight… I can’t find one. I consider calling Marco but he lives somewhere probably far away; doesn’t know where I live; can’t get to me; is probably drunk. I have to figure this out….by myself.

So I decide to ask another cab driver, maybe the next one will be smarter. On the way to the line of waiting cabs, I see a map. a map!! I can read maps… sorta. So, I’m standing staring at the map. I’m scowling and trying to calm myself down so that I can think straight. I keep looking down at my written address and back at the map. WTF!!! I see a 38 on my paper and a 38 on the map… could be the same. I’m trying to memorize the map enough that I can start trekking out again. Dear god my feet hurt, but I have to keep moving.

And then, a strange Japanese man walks up and asks if I need help—in English.

I consider: No (he could be an ax murder, right?) Yes (the desperate truth).
I smile real purdy and say ‘yes.”

He looks at my address and then the map and back and forth a few times. He suggests that we ask the police men, as they have a box right across the street. He asks the police men and they bring out books of maps to explain how to get there. After much discussion (of which I maybe followed 15%), he says he knows how to get there and we start walking.

Before long things look familiar, I think…. we make small talk. he studied in America once ect ect. He says people were very nice to him in America, but I can’t think of anyone so nice as to go 15 minutes (30 round trip) out of their way for a stanger after 1AM on a Saturday night. I owe some serious Karma.

Sure enough I see my apartment building! I thank this stranger profusely and disappear upstairs. Within 10 minutes I’m fast asleep, nasty shoes discarded by my locked door.


Katie said...

Step one: buy comfortable shoes
Step two: buy a MAP, silly!!

So glad you got home alright, and that Japan is a remarkably crime-free country with nice men in it.

Thank you for sharing your adventures here. Dave and I are both watching! :)

Love you.

Anonymous said...

hey rock star. i love this blogging. what a night adventure. i would have heaved over and cried...and then continue cuz there ain't anything else to do. what a nice nice man to guide you home. the kindness of strangers. the kindess of strangers,
love you. mum
no more horse meat

Anonymous said...

Kori, omygod, that was the epitome of the first night being a stanger in a strange land! I feel your pain, new shoes and all. You proved yourself to be a Rockstar above Rockstars... YOU DID IT!! Your story gives us perseverence when we are lost in our English speaking world and in broad daylight.... as I am wont to be. Carry on my love, Kiki