I was going to write about this awesome unreal day I had in Hankone and Lake Haji. Like the chillest most peaceful, beautiful day I've had in years. A 10/10 awesome day that I won't soon forget. It was DOPE. But last night was one of those stars align nights that you really only have like a few times in a lifetime.
This post just isn't going to flow. Period, full stop. I have a bunch of things to say and they're all fractured. It's kind of like Tokyo. Everywhere you look is something totally unique, separate from its surroundings.
- I got yelled at for standing in line incorrectly at a ramen place.
- The line girl is my Japanese nemesis. Kevin thought if we had one more disagreement I was getting tossed like Ron Gardenhire.
- THE RAMEN WAS AMAZING
- We got pulled to the front or the line to order and you order on a pop machine basically. It was so bright and loud and the world felt like it was collapsing on me. I felt like an alien. I had no idea what to do. I ordered the number 1 because that's what you do.
- WANT TO REITERATE HOW AMAZING THE RAMEN WAS
- The ramen place was so efficient. I was boggled. There was a wait of about 30 mins to get in, the line was out the door and around the corner, the place full, and the cooks? Ho hum. No big deal. At home, the place would be in chaos.
- I'm bad at social interactions in general - that goes tenfold for Japan. I know two words of Japanese. You can see how that may be an issue.
- I had a Kevin Malone moment at Starbucks. I like forgot how the coins work and unsuccessfully tried to pay. The cashier took them from my hand for me.
- In Shinjuku, a waiter was asking us whether he should bring the check for us. The place was closing. He walked over and just started into what felt like a diatribe. My brain recognized it, roughly, as “bejdhebdkdbejfbdjdbdkfbdidbrkfb?” I just said, “I don't know what you just said, dude, but I'll give you some money.”
- A lot of people wear what I call SARS masks here. It's weird but I'm getting used to it. I bet wearing a SARS mask is like when your mom makes you wear a bike helmet.
- No one seemed stressed out that it was Sunday night at Tokyo Central. I was kind of stresses out by how not stressed they were.
Kevin said he was out of gas. Cooked. He was Mel Clark in Angels in the Outfield. Laboring in the 8th, 156 pitches. We were walking back from Shinjuku toward our 2 square foot airbnb after getting one drink. Sunday night, everything was closed. We got to a bar at 10:30 and they served us, but not before letting us know that last call was 10:45. Drink up, get the fuck out. Right after, he called it. I was disappointed to be honest. I still had some juice left in the tank. But i could see going home. Long day ahead. Check out of airbnb. Train to osaka. Find the new airbnb. Yeah yeah yeah.
And then it hit me. I’m just going to Golden Gai solo. Figure it out. I still wanted to get into some shit.
We separated about 11:00 pm. I walked into the first bar in Golden Gai from which I heard English. The rest is history. Truly a night to remember.
I don't know if I've explained Golden Gai yet.
It's like the footprint of one or two city blocks at home. I'm a rich American who has never set foot in a slum, but it feels like an ideal version of a slum. Narrow. Dense. Bars only. No food. Each place seats less than ten people. The doors stay open, but there really aren't windows. They're really dark. The bars are like if a booth at CC Club was a whole bar. It's gritty and grimy and scanned knees and dirt under fingernails. It's touristy, but in a good way. My favorite type of people are attracted to it.
I drank sake and smoked cigarettes with a Czech guy. It was his last night it Tokyo before heading back to reality. He was a quieter fellow and often times sat in the background and just took in the scene, only piping up if he had something meaningful to say.
He had a YouTube video with like 2 million views of him playing piano “Skyfall” in Prague. The bar owner let him get the aux going to listen to it.
I drank beers and ripped menthols with a couple who were about 30 years old. Guy lived in London, grew up in Crimea. He had, no hyperbole, the most delightful accent I have ever heard. I felt like I was in a bar drinking with NPR. The woman was from Florence, Italy. She lived in London too. Both people were really inquisitive about American culture. We talked about Hibbing. We talked about the States as a whole. We talked about how Trump happened. They asked where my Bible and gun were. Ha, ha, ha.
We compared weed in Colorado and Washington to hanging out in Amsterdam and just learned about like casual drug culture. He said he was on a bachelor party in Amsterdam where they were biking thru the city. They got to a place, one went in to order and the others stayed outside locking up their bikes.
They forgot whether they were coming or going. They stood next to the bikes with locks in hand for an hour. Their buddy drank all 4 pints and then came outside and said “what the fuck, you guys?”
(Aside) You know how they say “mate” in Australia? Or “chap” in England? For us, it's buddy. I was visiting a buddy. My buddy this. My buddy that. It never occurred to me that it's so cultural. Perspective snuck up on me last night.
Anyway, I told him the story of me getting unbelievably stoned and going to a CU-CSU game at Mile High Stadium and being afraid of falling on the field. Trading war stories for the extremely privileged.
I met this dude Jason who was from SF by way of Athens, GA. He is a musician. His bands are called Marathon States and Hard Girls. The past year or so I've gotten so much more info music than I ever was. I've started going to shows and listening to stuff that I've never heard of. Like I used to just listen to a lot of Drake.
Anyway, I love music people. They're so goddamn nice and chill and welcoming and unpretentious. They're like the opposite of country club people.
Jason is the nicest dude I've maybe ever met in my life. First gen American with Vietnamese parents. He went there with his family on a trip and hated it.
He's friends with the Menzingers and was like baffled that I know who they are. He asked if I think they've gotten too commercial and I was like “bro, I really only discovered them like 6 months ago.” Hahahahahaha.
We all drank and bullshit. Drank and bullshit. Smoke cigs. Drank and bullshit. Etc. Etc.
Time was bending its pace. Speeding up and getting slower all at once. My memory of last night feels like it's both 2 weeks and 25 minutes at the same time. I had my most unique social experience of my life last night.
I think I'm going to be way more confident in myself, the man™, because of it. I beat myself up over a lot of things and I think I have weird social interactions and I generally don't think I'm the best version of myself. But now, going forward, I don't know if I care about that kind of perfection as much.
I love how present I am when I'm here. I'm consumed with what is in front of my eyes. I'm not worried about career, money, love life, death, my existence. I'm just here in a vacuum. It is like taking a sauna for your brain. Clearing out the pores of my life.
Like I think I will be more comfortable with the bad, with like rejection, with failure, because whatever it is, it's like “I've partied with really interesting people in Tokyo by myself, and they LIKED me.” Like, who cares if someone in Minnesota doesn't. The world is big. The further I go, the bigger it feels.