Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Break Up

The longer you live here, the more of these you will experience. Rather than count my years using their assigned calendar numbers, I look back at my time here in eras marked by the friends who helped to make them what they were...in addition to those not mentioned here, there was the Tokyo Cowgirl Era, the Other Whitie Era. As of late, another era has passed and let me tell you, redheads are hard to get over. My work husband also recently terminated his relationship with me and the Kaisha, so things are now a little bit lonelier even for me, the perpetually Lonely Whitie.

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.

27 comments:

Chris said...

Everyone talks about "Male Bonding" but it seems like women like to cruise and hang much more.

I could live happy without ever seeing another guy forever...one day without the ladies though and I'd be freaked...we got that kinda in common.

I can call myself Christine and hang with you ladies. Just freaking use me!!...Please!! ;)

☆sarita☆ said...

Ugh, the breakup. My main prob was that too many of my friends were grad students, here-and-gone in a year or two. And the ones that are left are all firmly entrenched in salaryman territory, with no free time.
My sanity is saved by the fact that I have an awesome roommate, but unfortunately she kind of hates...well... people. And generally refuses to go any place where she might have to encounter said people and their stupidity. -_-;

All of which has made me realize that I need more friends who will actually, you know, *do stuff* with me. ;-p

kathrynoh said...

I'd happily answer your ad but I'm going home soon :(

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Chris, guys are definitely not excluded from my friend net, I guess I am just really missing girlfriends right now. How would you feel about "girlfriend" instead of "Christine"?!

Sarita, there's a lot of...people here :) So as not to misrepresent, I do have a couple great gfs. Like you though, the timing and enthusiasm for certain things can make having spontaneous get togethers very difficult. I need someone close by with a similar schedule who wants to eat, see and drink the same. Is that too much to ask?!

gaijinwife said...

Ahh, the breakup sucks. I've been the stayer of my friends. I'm the only one that shacked up and got married. Fortunately one of my Japan-made friends has a fetish for Arashi and has been back to visit several times. I doubt my small town of 5000 will be welcoming many whities for me to befriend soon.

but if you ever relocate to Oita...

xxx

Tokyo Cowgirl said...

Oh, GEG...

There are no words for you, only hugs. And as you have already noted, I'm no longer on your side of the planet so sadly the hugs must be reduced to four letters and an exclamation point (perhaps followed by a colon and closed parenthesis?)

Life can be terribly lonely no matter where you are. That said, I know how hard it is to find a great friend in Japan. For what it's worth, you will find another. You always do. And this chapter will close and a new one will open.

We had a great chapter though, didn't we?

Miss you,
TC

mid-Japan-crisis said...

..."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"

I am so there, you have no idea. Maybe our paths will cross.

Natalie said...

I totally get what you're feeling, and felt it myself when I was in Japan. People kept leaving, and I was only there for 1 year!

And somehow I'm on the other end of that relocating-phase now: 1 year Tokyo, 1 yr DC, now 1 yr London and the year after that 1 yr LA.. it's driving me crazy not being able to meet people but at the same time I really like living in different places...

karisuma gyaru said...

i like leopard print!

seriously though, i understand the feeling so very much... lucky for me though, i've managed to snatch on to someone who is probably gonna be a lifer... she's never leaving!! *evil laughter* still, it sucks having such a limited circle of friends because people you love are always leaving... boooh!!!

Principessa said...

When I make it to Japan it will be permanent and you sound really cool so I'll look you up. :)

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

kathrynoh: So I hear. Hope you enjoy the rest of your time here!

gaijinwife: It's tempting. If you lend me your ear, I will ply you with wine and cheese :)

Cowgirl: It was a great chapter :) (from what I remember through the alcohol haze...). I hope to be on your fold-out sofa within the next year!

mid-Japan: Excellent. If you see a blonde whitie walking through a smokey alley by herself, it is quite possibly me.

Natalie: It's all part of relocating to other cities. I sometimes wish my best friends weren't so spread out, but it does give me an excuse to travel :)

karisuma: Word to all that you said (and I'll add that we have such a limited pool to draw from). I need to find me a lifer!

Principessa: See above re: lifer :) Thanks for commenting!

illahee said...

sign me up!


....except i hate tokyo. move to fukuoka? ;)

L. said...

I live near Roppongi, if that helps.

And I am starting a new job next week, meaning I have made my commitment to sticking around Tokyo for a while.

Do you ever go Goro-san's in Golden Gai? If so, then perhaps I already know you (but haven't been in a looooong time).

Elaine said...

I'm a long-termer in Tokyo, searching for new friends AND I know L, so does that make me acceptable?

I just came back from a vacation that included a visit with one of those wonderful, former Japan friends, and it's made me long for another person like that, but here, a lot. So I'm game if you are!

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

illahee: It's tempting what with you and gaijinwife down there. Very tempting.

L: Never been to Goro-san's but I do enjoy Golden Gai. I am one of those gaijin who knows no one. Ask me about my connections and I would be very hard pressed to give you any. Roppongi huh? I move on the outer edges of Roppongi...this could work.

Elaine: See above re: me being the most disconnected gaijin ever. Long-term isn't even a factor anymore as I can't commit to that myself now :)

Will said...

The mood meter kept dropping as I continued scrolling down your blog. Loneliness seems to be a running theme. In terms of lonely numbers, a lonely one seems to have a better value than a lonely two.

But you were talking about friends...

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Will: Thanks for stopping by. I think I maintain a fair amount of humor and lightheartedness about my on-again-off-again loneliness. It can be crushing but it always goes away. As for friends, I love the ones I have and miss the ones who are in other places...

R. Grace said...

That's starting to happen to me a lot too, with the end of college fast approaching. I think friendships can still be valuable even if they're short, and two of my closest friends live far across the country from me. Whatever happens, you get great stories out of the experience!

lioness in japan said...

I love that you are upfront about being lonely because it is a really expat "problem"... I'm reaching my five-year mark in Japan and work-wise, it looks like I'll be here for at least another five...and I totally get the break up. I sometimes feel the urge to stay away from folks who say they will only be here for a year or talk about relocating - adios baby? Why should I invest time in you? But then I was once in that position, not sure if I would stay, but here I am... And transience is a part of life and 'tis the adult thing to do to accept it like a trooper, esp since I chose to be an expat in Japan...

Medea said...

The Break Up sucks.

When I decided to get married I thought I would be part of a trio forever. My two closest friends were also married to Japanese men and within margarita drinking distance. But death and divorce means they have left me here alone. I have a couple of very good Japanese mama friends at the moment but I still mourn the loss of my bestest girl friends. Facebook and postcards just don't cut it.

Our Man in Abiko said...

It's the ex-pat experience, I'm afraid.

The only cure is to make more friends, admittedly in the knowledge that they too will leave one day - or - dare we think it - that we will too.

But nothing stays the same, even if you stayed at "home", people move on. So must we all.

But I feel for you.

Staci and Daniel said...

Girl, you just spoke to my heart.. I totally understand this problem. This is now the first question I ask potential friends here(How long are you going to be here?). O and cute blog!! :)

-Staci

Anonymous said...

thats tough, but youll get through it. I hate japan so that wouldnt bother me, well maybe a day then I move on. Your still young, youll be ok. Jap guys are selfish anyway.

Anonymous said...

So you broke up with your bf and lost your job? Sorry, Im not following the post so well. Golden Gai? I been there, its strange. Japan is weird like that, millions around us but it can be very lonely. Perhaps you try toastmaster or debate? Japan can be one extreme to the other, I think we all experience it.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

R. Grace: Indeed. I try not to think of them as "short" but simply long distance. My best girlfriends are scattered in different places and one of the best things about our friendships is we pick up where we left off even if it's been a few years.

lioness: High five to both being here for five! Agree with all you've said and frankly, even if I was elsewhere, I probably wouldn't have an established group of friends who weren't going anywhere!

Medea: Sorry to hear about your "loss." Nothing beats having someone close by you can call on spontaneously.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Our Man: As always, wise words from you. But where are these people from whom friends can be made?!?!

Staci: Thanks for coming by :) I try to think of a more discreet/original way of asking these questions but I'm at a loss...

toforward said...

One of my besties left me/Japan for a second time last week, which brought this post back into my consciousness. It is such a bummer. Back to g-chatting to the extent our time zones allow it.

On the other hand, I did meet my dude at her first going away party, but he's not really the best replacement for a BFF.