I have about 15 half written blogs I’m currently working on. Most of the notes in my phone are full of random ideas that come to me, whether it’s a new blog topic or a title I would want to make use of. I woke up the other morning and the thought randomly crossed my mind… Why haven’t I written about my life in Japan?
Last year one of my friends wanted to go to Japan for his birthday. He called me asking if I would meet him there, and I said UM. let me think about that for a second…. YES! It was my first time flying internationally alone, and I was ecstatic. I love traveling. I originally tried getting on the same flight as he did, but it ended up working out better for me to just fly separately; we both would land in Tokyo around the same time, so it was perfect. The original ticket I had booked was for 2 1/2 weeks. The plan: land in Tokyo at Narita airport, get coffee in as many different cities as humanly possible, and just take in the sights and culture on this amazing adventure.
Landing in Japan that first time is something I will never forget. Being the only 5 foot 7 blonde, descending down an escalator to get my bags and observing that all the signs are in Japanese after flying for 15+ hours; I thought.. This is what adventures are made of. For some, that scenario would be extremely stressful. For me, it was the opposite. Life is all about new experiences, and testing your own personal limits. I was so grateful to be in this new country, everything was just exhilarating.
I absolutely love the feeling of being free. Traveling for me is something that makes me feel alive; Being on a plane is peaceful in the sense that no one can reach you. You’re forced to disconnect from the world. (Unless you choose to pay for wifi which I purposely don’t so no one can get a hold of me.)
From restaurants, different villages and shopping areas, temples, shrines, the famous Robot Cafe, and where the geisha girls are, to clubs and high rise lounges where you can overlook the entire city of Tokyo; we went everywhere. We walked around a fish market in Tsukiji, went shopping in Ginza (a super nice shopping area with a New York City vibe), walked around a castle and had sushi at this restaurant that Obama had eaten at. A week into our trip, our friend Briana flew out and we continued the adventure. To say we were living was an understatement. I couldn’t get enough of everything. I ate sushi every. single. day. I used chopsticks like I was that bitch that knew how to use chopsticks. (Just kidding. But seriously.) We decided to take a train ride to Kyoto, because we wanted to go sightseeing in a new city. I was absolutely delirious, but I was too busy taking it all in, I figured I could sleep when I was dead. Lol. That entire day I told my friends there’s no way in hell I’m going to be able to go out tonight. I was running on little sleep, coffee at this point was pointless. We went to dinner at this beautiful restaurant that had a live singer and served little chocolate candies (I obviously had to try one of each), and then went back to our rooms; We had been on the go nonstop. From sightseeing and going out, to different train and cab rides and exploring everywhere on foot, (rough life you’re thinking, I know) I needed sleep.
And then I got a second wind. My friend wanted to go out for drinks because we were in a new city, and I was like let’s fucking go! I threw my hair up in a ponytail, got ready in literally 5 minutes and threw on a dress, and we left. No mascara, not even bronzer made the cut. I had pulled up two different nightclubs in my phone, and we decided on one. I was literally having the time of my life. We were drinking, taking shots, without a care in the world. It wasn’t just about being in Japan; I had just gotten to a place where I was so happy being on my own. I felt free.
And then this guy walked in….
I’m on the dance floor (slightly) intoxicated, dancing around. There were guys that spoke English (from Australia and some other places) that tried talking to me but I was ambivalent. AKA didn’t give a F****, per usual. I noticed a guy walking in, tall dark and handsome, and I saw him looking at me but I didn’t think anything of it. I have no concept of time so I’m not sure exactly when, but all of a sudden I got a tap on my shoulder. The guy I had noticed earlier wanted me to come to his table. I was with my guy friend, and I looked at new-guy-talking-to-me and said, (with attitude I’m sure) “I’m only coming if my friend can come with.” Without hesitation…. “Bring your friend!!!!” And that was it. A little while later my friend wanted to go back to the hotel because he was tired, and asked if I would be ok staying without him. I told him I was good and I’d be back later, I wasn’t ready to leave yet.
Little did I know that *Landon saw me right when he had walked in, and had watched me curve guys earlier in the night. It’s an image to this day that makes me laugh for the simple fact that I seriously get drunk and I am my own party. Eventually we left and got into a cab, and in Japanese he gave the driver his address. How presumptuous. I looked at him and said something to the affect of “No the f we are NOT going to your apartment, I’m going back to MY hotel.” He looked at me for a second, paused, and said, “Ok.”
He walked me up to my floor, but we weren’t ready to just go our separate ways. I didn’t let him into my hotel room so we stayed in the hallway until 6 in the morning. In front of a window. Talking. Listening to music on his phone. Making out like we were back in high school. Classy. (You’re welcome to the hotel security guy that had to watch that footage.) He asked me what song I wanted him to play, and I couldn’t think of one so I told him to pick. He played a Russ song. I was dumbfounded. I was in Japan, happily single, and I meet this American guy that has a place in California that lives part time overseas. And he just played a Russ song.
The next morning my friends wanted to know everything. Briana was pissed that the ONE night she decided to stay in, I had actually let my freak flag fly, pulled an all nighter, and she wasn’t there to get documented evidence of it. *Landon texted me asking what we had planned for the day. He told me he was going to go out with some of his teammates that night, and that I was coming regardless if my friends wanted to or not. (Clearly I like someone that takes control) Briana was in. She wasn’t going to miss out on another epic night, so we took a train to Osaka and checked into a hotel. A little while after we were at the club, I told *Landon I needed to tell him something. My flight home was supposed to be the next day, flying out of Tokyo which was a 3 hour train ride from where we were. I had gone out that night with the intent of once again, getting no sleep, figuring I would just catch up on my 15 hour flight back to the states. I broke the news to him that I was leaving in the morning. Briana didn’t want to have to take the train ride by herself, and I had given my word that I would go with her so she wouldn’t be stressed or scared about traveling alone. All of a sudden Landon walks up to me and said, “I’m going with you. We’re gonna take the train ride with her and then you’re staying with me. You’re not getting on that flight.” I looked at him like he was absolutely fucking crazy. (In his defense, when I first met him one of the first things he looked at me and said was, “I’m crazy.” So who’s fault is all of this, really.) We were going to be out all night again, and this guy that I just met is going to wake up at 9am and be on a train for 6+ hours just to make sure my friend gets to her gate safely?
I extended my flight.
We took the 3 hour train to Tokyo, walked her to her gate, and then got right back on to take the 3 hour trip back to Kyoto where he lived. I have to add in here that we were standing most of the ride because the train was completely full and we didn’t want to have to sit separately, and he didn’t complain one time. I was shocked lol. We were completely hungover. We didn’t have time to eat. And yet we were so happy, nothing else mattered. The next week we were together nonstop, minus when he had to go to workouts and practice. My first ever basketball experience was going to watch him play. Prior to dating him I had never even watched a game on tv. I literally only know hockey terminology because I used to play. One day I accidentally asked his teammates wife what period it was, when the correct terminology is quarters. (I’m smRt). His teammate, (another American) who ended up becoming one of my best friends/partner in crime/counselor when I was there was married, and when his wife was there we would go to games together. She played in the WNBA so she obviously knew everything about basketball, and helped me to understand what was happening. We would all go out to dinner, bars, etc. and it was nice for me because without her there sometimes I felt really alone. (She often felt the same way, because overseas life is not easy, despite what it may seem.) I just didn’t have friends that I could call up and talk to because of the time difference back home, and as hard as I tried I didn’t really make any real connections with the girls there because they just idolized my boyfriend; They weren’t trying to make a real friendship with the girl he loved. I was always really thankful when she would come back to Japan, it was just nice to have girl time with someone that was just genuine and could relate to me. We would go grocery shopping together, get coffee, take the train to different places; She even showed me a store at the train station that had gluten free noodles, and because of her I can say I actually cooked (bomb AF, if I do say so myself) pasta in Japan. *Landon had formed close friendships with some of his Japanese teammates and some of the local guys that were out every time that we were. I will never forget how warm and welcoming they were every time I came back from the States. There was just something so genuine and authentic about some of the people there, it’s something that I will never forget.
Right away I knew he was someone that I wanted in my life, and I know he felt the same way. We were from completely different worlds, but we just understood each other. We are both extremely guarded when it comes to letting people in, and also both extremely stubborn when it came to even acknowledging that we were falling in love. I told him I would never tell a guy I love you first, and I think he was hoping that I would break before he did. But, no. Don’t ever doubt my ability to keep shit to myself lol. I would text him “I L you” because to use the whole 4 letters (l-o-v-e) is scary, and I’m emotionally retarded.
I spent the next 8 months going back and forth to Japan. I would have to look at my passport but I went there probably 6 or 7 times. I experienced living in another country for weeks; going to the grocery store, coffee shops, restaurants, etc. in a place where most people (with the exception of like one bar) only spoke Japanese. To get anywhere you have to walk or take a train ride, and that was probably the most significant difference from the United States to Japan. I loved walking around by myself just trying to figure everything out. I found a doctor that did acupuncture, and I would email him to make appointments. The first time I found his office I had seen the sign outside and I entered it into my Japanese translator app. (You take a screenshot of a word in Japanese, and it shows you the meaning in English.) I knocked on his door, and when he answered I just pointed at my head, to let him know I had a headache. At first he didn’t understand, but then I did a poking motion so he knew I was there for acupuncture, and he actually understood me and let me in. I went back to him a few times, and it was just so humbling. He didn’t speak English, I didn’t speak Japanese. But we somehow found a way to communicate; and he would do acupuncture and old ancient Japanese techniques for my migraines. I found a nail place that I frequently went to where they would wave at me when I walked by, and a coffee shop that was in the second floor of a bakery that became one of my favorite places to go to. I was lost at the train station on my first trip going home and this cute old man put his hands on my suitcase and guided me where I needed to be. When I would go to the grocery store and I needed potatoes, I googled a picture of a potato and the girl working at the counter guided me in the right direction with a smile on her face. She of course knew that I was a foreigner and just needed help in the potato section so I could trade in sushi for a home cooked meal.
I never planned on talking about any relationships I’ve had, because it’s a certain part of my life that I always like to keep private; but I couldn’t write this blog and be completely authentic without sharing the catalyst of the story. Some relationships just don’t work out, and we are no longer together, (I’m happy & life is good so don’t be sad over this love story ending bcuz that’s just a part of life) but I have never and will never speak negatively about an ex on a public platform. I’ve only truly loved a couple men in my life; and the inner workings of those relationships will never make it to my blog, because I don’t think certain things should be turned into public fodder. I also don’t want to start World War 111. Lol.
We all try to maneuver and arrange our lives according to our ‘plan’ for ourselves, but you know what? You can plan all you want; and I’m here to tell you that regardless of how you think your life is going to go, or where you want to end up; God has something different in mind. I went to Japan on an adventure, and I found love without even looking for it. Love in the form of a person, but more importantly, love for the cities and different people I encountered along the way.
Japan changed my life. A lot of people live their lives with their eyes halfway open. Being in a different country and getting to know the way other people live is something that forever changes you.
The things that I got to experience have given me a different outlook on life and the way people in other countries live. Japan wasn’t the first country I’ve visited, but it’s a place that gave me a new set of eyes. My life is so fast paced, I’m always on the go; and being in Japan I got to just experience being still. I sat in a coffee shop for hours and watched a group of Japanese women (in their 70s or early 80s) sit and talk, and I was happy to just be a fly on the wall. I took baths every day in a tub that I didn’t really fit in; I drank myself into oblivion (which is like 2 drinks for me because I’m such a lush) on a couple occasions and rode on a random bicycle outside in the rain. I went on long walks with my headphones in just seeing where the road would take me, and sat at local cafes working on my writing. I want to go everywhere. I want to cultivate friendships with people all over the world. I want to experience how other people live. I want to wear my favorite Vans in as many countries as humanly possible, so when I take them home and wear them I have a constant reminder of the places I’ve been.
And…. Speaking of shoes.. If any of you are reading this and you plan on going to visit Japan, let me know. A pair of my Louboutins were left at a certain someones apartment in a certain closet because a certain someone was mad at me and left them there; and they’re all yours for the taking. Xo
*Name has been changed because, well, isn’t that what all writers do?
“Wanderlust: n. a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world”.