|Blogs > saxyjazzman > Tokyo Nights|
I’m ready for Mariko's next lesson with a panoply of accessories: a couple of Meyer Briggs books so she can check out her personality type, a book on artistic self-epowerment, a CD including me singing “Fever,” and my incomparable comedy monologue, “Roppongi Nights.” What’s not to like.
Fifteen minutes before I’m to be at Starbucks, the car keys disappear, and I am spinning in space like an Alzheimer’s veteran, checking every room 10 times before I spy them sticking out of the lock in the car trunk. Fifteen minutes late, I wander around the coffee shop, upstairs, downstairs, staring at various Japanese women. “Is that her, wasn’t she prettier than that?” until finally from the stairs I see her at the counter and yes, I was right, she was prettier than that. Much prettier.
Upstairs, she has my horoscope ready (and hers) both stunningly on the money. We look at my materials, which she can take home and review. The conversation is a blur. In that hour I can only remember the palpable energy between us, a kind of giddiness. I would bump up against areas that were considered “private,” and step back. But there was more about the abusive and abandoning father, a man she was still civil with, but who, with her mother, had imprinted her with memories of marital horror to last a lifetime.
We repair to a cool Fifties hamburger shop next door. There, the woman states her love for John Coltrane, which to me is comparable to a born-again Christian hearing another’s love for Jesus. She was hitting other good notes -- Al Green, Otis Redding, Sarah Vaughn. Movies I mention had been on her mind the day before. And she digs Steely Dan, which is totally off the scale. I mean, give me a break. Steely Dan.
I pull out the computer and she takes in the first few minutes of my Roppongi Nights in the headphones. Says she needs to check it out later when she can focus. We are talking about an intense, very alive person, a woman finely attuned to her inner world. And I remember her gazing at me and saying, “I can see you.” And believing that she could. She said we had a deep soul connection. Said she had been not sleeping since we met.
We realize that it is exhausting staring in each other’s eyes for two hours. Let’s go driving, I offer. I go ahead to warm up the car and call home. “I’m depressed,” complains Kumiko, a woman who has shut down her feminine antenna to a dull roar, who in her unconscious soul knew about Emilia two years ago, and also knew tonight that something was happening in my heart -- and yet the central part of her could care less about my heart. It is her struggling business that owns her, she is like Kurosawa’s mountain climbers lost in the blizzard, trying to believe that a bivouac is near. And now I had lost my job.
Mariko and I head out toward Kichijoji. “It feels strange being here,” bubbles out of her. “This is only the second time, but I feel I’ve known you much longer.”
“And I’m being just like a man, staying calm, plodding along like everything is normal.”
“I mean, what is this, is this love?”
I make a comment that if angels were looking down at us they would be laughing.
When we get to Kichijoji, she says she’d better go home and feed her cat. I feel relieved, but in that moment I glance at her and catch the full impact of her beauty. Eyes you get lost in, lips you only dream of. Uh-oh, I think. Watch it.
The denouement of the evening begins to play out. “Look, I have to celebrate osho-gatsu with my family, I need to cancel the next two sessions.”
“Will you be able to get along without me?” The joke doesn’t really go over.
Driving back, with the inherent chemistry of returnings and farewells, her terms of endearment trickle out. “There’s just us, right? We don’t have to think about anything else. We just have time to enjoy together, and that’s it, right?” With passionless composure, I agree, as if I am Carl Rogers with a patient. She keeps asking if we are headed the right direction, and I show her the GPS screen to reassure her.
Just before we reach the station it spills out,
“But you’re not free.”
“I am free, “ I protest.
“No you’re not,” she asserts with authority.
More quiet composure on my part, the idiotic kind.
“You see, I’m a little afraid of you,” she confesses.
She’s getting out of the car, now like an English student. I clasp her hand to say goodbye, but it feels awkward. Then a wave and she is gone.
At home, the mundane and usual descends.
“Why did the lesson go so long?
“She’s a very intense person.”
“Did you ask her if she’d taken TOEIC?”
“Did you charge her for the extra time?”
“Gee, I’d like a teacher like that” Kumiko spits out contemptuously.
Well, what is she going to do, ask me if I’ve fallen in love? Not likely.
The cold that was hovering in my throat takes hold and I try to retire early. I awaken around three in the morning from a dream. I was walking down a path amid hills covered with summery, auburn grass. But everywhere, they were bursting into flame, big pockets of fire ballooning into the air all around me.
My heart is too loud. Across from me, Kumiko lies on her futon, also awake, I can tell. I remember past snippets from the marriage:
“Kuniko, I feel lonely” ….. “Don’t say that.”
“Kumiko, I don’t know how to love you” … “That’s your problem.”
“Kumiko, I need love.” … “God loves you.”
We lie there in silence in that desolate bedroom, in our separate worlds. In mine, I see Mariko’s face, like that of Kali, the goddess of destruction -- because this feels like too much for me. They’ve given me more than I can handle this time. I never woke up in the night thinking about Emilia. This feels like a freight train screaming through town, you try to grab hold, it rips your arms off.
I imagine telling Mariko how beautiful my love with Emilia was, the way we both knew it would end, the graceful, tear-filled way we said goodbye as she boarded a ship bound for China, the love we shared by email long after our separation until she found the man she would marry. How this could be the same, six months of love and fun before she leaves for America.
Lying there in the darkness, though, it feels like too much love.
But it may already be too late.
12/27/2005 1:18 am
I know I must have heard cuts. Does she sing "The Christmas Song?" That's the ultimate Christmas sax song. I didn't play it this year cause they fired me and what the hell. Didn't feel Christmassy. Almost as bad as 9/11 when the manager laughed at me when I said I couldn't play this bouncy birthday tune for the customer. (We'd just heard the news on the radio.) He goes, "But this is BUSINESS.." and I go, "And this is my HEART," and walked out. Came back later. What a night.|
I'll check out Etta on iTunes!