One of the first questions I will inevitably ask when sizing up a new friend is how long they will be in Japan for. It's not that I won't pursue a friendship with them if the answer is shorter than one visa renewal, but I like to know around how long I've got with them before the inevitable Break Up. Once the Break Up comes, it can be crushing. Long distance relationships are fine but when you are suddenly physically bereft of a friend, it's akin to standing alone in an empty room that's been packed up for a move. What used to be lived in is now just a space that remembers nothing.
Some might call the Break Up "relocating", "returning home" or "leaving Japan" but I call it as I see it: neither Japan nor I was good enough, so we've been dumped. What is particularly tragic is the friend who promised to be with you until the end (=your own BU with Japan) who breaks up with you way ahead of schedule. To put the bleakness in perspective: by the time I get off this island there is going to be no one left to break up with. I sometimes fantasize about farewell parties for myself where the only guest is, yes, myself (cheers!). Like I said, bleak.
Each time a friend leaves, I cast my mind back to the time before her era and I can't help but wonder how the hell did I get by without her? My most recent ex came along on the cusp of a year that was shaping up to be a bit shittay and turned it into a golden era. It's hard enough to meet people you can have a decent conversation with and harder still to find someone who shares your humor and affinity for taking trips to far flung places for monkey waiters, getting your hair did in a bouffant just because, and finding dank retro cafes from one of Tokyo's bygone eras.
I still don't know the magic formula for meeting friends here but have been remarkably lucky in meeting a few fantastic friends through my public rantings on here (why that didn't scare them away, I'll never know). Now that another blossoming relationship has been cut short, however, I may have to start going out alone and hitting on people.** I'll be sure to let them know up front that I'm not looking for any one-night stands. Or perhaps I'll install myself on a street corner with a sign that says "friends wanted."
In the meantime, I'm feeling desperately sorry for myself and enjoying some pillow biting, hoping that before too long, I will maybe again have someone who will say yes more often than no and who can muster enthusiasm for tiny dive bars in Golden Gai where discussion revolves around the bartender's protruding chest hair.
**or publishing a personal ad: LWF (lonely white female, natch) seeks funny female companion for possible long-term relationship. Must love bikes, vodka rickeys, cinema both lofty and trashy, eating things off sticks and the fine balance to be maintained between being classy and slumming it. Must not be adverse to restaurants from the early Showa period or leopard print.