Locke and I visit Hiroshima; I meet the girl of my dreams

I’m not sure it’s exactly “breaking into someone’s house” if you have the spare key, but my best friend Locke came over and just opened the front door. He didn’t even call, because he knew better — I never answer my phone. Especially while on vacation.

Which I had been, for a month. But I didn’t go anywhere. I took a full 28 days of leave from work to sit alone in my house, binge drink, watch Netflix, and play video games.

The greatest fucking month of my life.

I was in the middle of my three-year Navy deployment to Japan. To spare the extended soliloquy I’m apt to launch into about how much I hated that place, I will instead flippantly describe my job there as “hella stressful.” It was a mental vacation much more than a physical one. I like traveling and exploring, and I went to Tokyo a few times (it was only about an hour-and-$10 train ride away), but otherwise I sat on my ass and didn’t speak to anyone, on purpose.

Hence the break-in.

Locke walks in to find me on my couch, an evening of whiskey already consumed, with various empty to-go containers and empty soda bottles scattered on the floor around me structured in a half-circle wall of lazy gluttony.

“Let’s go to Hiroshima.”

Me “What? When?”

Locke “Tonight. Let’s just go.”

Me “……Ugh, okay”

That was it. That was literally our entire plan. I had four days left of leave, and he had the following four days off work. Technically we were supposed to inform our military supervisors that we were traveling further than 2 hours away, or 4 hours, or whatever it was. But we don’t let The Man hold us down for nothing.

Locke didn’t even pack a change of clothes. He’s the most unkempt gay dude I’ve ever known. I grabbed a bag, filled it with some necessities, and made sure I had enough cash on hand since Japan doesn’t use fucking credit cards. “So technologically advanced.” Japan has fast trains, you can pay your electric bill at 7-Eleven, and they watch a lot of anime, but other than that, I don’t really see it.

There was no research, no price-shopping for transportation, and no itinerary. At about 5:00 am the next morning, we went to the Yokohama station, bought the first bullet train tickets available, and about 20 minutes later we were zipping from the eastern side of the country all the way to the west.

We arrived hungry, so we reached out to the first restaurant we saw. It looked like a shithole. But they had this awesome outdoor experience where you were given your own grill and could cook all your own clams and other seafood. It was one of the greatest restaurants I’ve ever been to, with no exaggeration. I don’t remember what it’s called, but I’ll spend an afternoon on Google Maps one day and give it its proper props.

The rest of our first day was spent wandering around the city with no aim or goal, just the way we like it.

As we obviously hadn’t booked any hotel for ourselves, our solution that night was to get a taxi, tell him to “take us to a cheap hotel,” and take what comes our way. If need be, we’d just sleep in a park. In fact we pretty much did that for one of our nights there.

After what seemed like an eternity of failed attempts at pinpointing vacancy, our taxi driver finally found one with a room available.

I wish I’d taken pictures of this fucking place. The building was fine and all; just your typical sketchy crack motel. But the ROOM… neither of us spoke any Japanese beyond what it took to request our convenience store food to be heated up in the microwave behind the counter. So we had no idea what this elderly Asian hotel clerk was trying to tell us.

Got our key and walked into our room. The first thing I remember noticing was the heart-shaped glass coffee table in the middle of the floor. The red and/or pink shag carpet was also fairly glaring. As well as the cornucopia of condoms in a bowl on the heart table I mentioned earlier. And the single double bed.

It seems the only place left in the city that we could find was a love hotel.

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From Japantoday.com – Obviously this isn’t the specific one we had, but it’s a pretty damn good approximation.

It was rip-roaringly hilarious to us that everyone was most certainly assuming we were gay. Well, Locke IS gay, but that’s not the point.

Our second day we went to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, because… obviously.

I don’t need to tell you about World War II, or rant about how Truman really really did not need to drop the atomic bombs, the many thousands of people who were vaporized, the many more thousands afflicted with radiation and forced to die a slow, excruciating death… The memorial museum and surrounding “attractions” were exactly what you’d expect them to be. Somber and horrifying.

The artifact that stood out to me the most was the wristwatch frozen in time at 8:15, when the internal gears had clicked for their final time. I don’t know why this one in particular, but I’ll just never forget it.

Locke and I had gone our own way throughout the museum. I reached the end and sat outside on a park bench for about 10 minutes before he wandered out as well.

Me “Well THAT was depressing.”

Locke “Yeah. Let’s go get drunk.”

Oh, did we ever. We decided that instead of our real jobs as intelligence analysts working for the United States Navy, we would henceforth pretend to be English teachers from Canada for the remainder of the weekend.

And on the third day, we took a ferry to some island. Neither of us can read, or really even have any idea where we’re going, but it seemed like there were touristy things there.

Arriving on the island, I went into a public restroom to piss. Locke came in and was adamant.

“Adam. You NEED to come out here and see this.”

“What is it? Strippers?”

“Even better.”

I walked outside into an open courtyard area, expecting something lame. But it wasn’t! It was a deer!

Standing by itself, calm as can be, about 4-5 feet away from a small crowd of 4-5 people.

A FUCKING PEOPLE-FRIENDLY DEER JUST STANDING THERE WAITING TO BE BEST FRIENDS WITH ME

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Pretty much the happiest moment of my life. And my profile picture on Tinder and Facebook for the following few years.

The entire island was full of them. I forget what the sociological reason was, but none of the deer on this island are afraid of human beings. You could approach them, feed them, even touch them. I remember posted signs telling visitors to either do or don’t do various things, but fuck if we were going to pay attention to any of THAT bullshit.

We quickly learned that the deer were actually jerks. None of this deterred me from attempting to befriend every single one of these majestic beasts on the whole island, but describing them as “apathetic to humans” might be a more accurate descriptor than “friendly.”

If you were holding a deer treat, available in packs of several for about $1, they would harass you and follow you around. If you gave them the deer treat, they’d eat it right out of your hand. And then they’d try and eat the wax paper it was wrapped in. And then they’d try and eat the map you were holding. Or your pant leg. Really anything you had other than human flesh.

You could touch them, but they didn’t really seem to enjoy it as much as I unmistakably did. Like petting a cat that remains skeptical of your general presence.

That island was my own personal heaven.

— — — — — — — — — —

I didn’t know what I wanted at the time, romantically. So like anyone else in my stumbling-in-the-dark-toward-love condition, I was on Tinder.

I’m not the type to turn down opportunities, as evidenced by the fact that I have this blog. I’ve spent my whole life making rash decisions and rolling with the consequences, with this Hiroshiman excursion being no exception.

So I swiped around to see who was in the area. I wasn’t even really looking to hook up, because it’s not like Locke is gonna Eiffel Tower her with me.

One of the girls I matched with was a girl we’ll call “Peaches” since I’m currently binging the anxiety-wave-crashing series You on Netflix.

Peaches and her also-cute friend met up with us on our final day in Hiroshima and showed us around for a few hours at a shopping area that locals go to. I think we also went to a bombass ice cream gelato place.

She was cute, and we got along, and eventually it was time for me and Locke to head back across the country to Yokosuka. Goodbyes, added each other on Facebook, said we’d meet up again if happenstance permitted, yada yada yada.

Memory vaguely recalls Locke telling me on the homebound train in a slightly subtle way that this Peaches girl seemed… off in some way or another. But as I usually do, I ignored it and filed it away in my brain along with every other obstacle in life that’ll never stop me from living out my dreams.

— — — — — — — — — —

MONTHS LATER . . .

Peaches had vague plans to visit Tokyo Disney. I lived an hour away in Yokosuka, which isn’t very far in terms of Japan trains, so she was of course free to stay at my place. And yeah, we’d been text-flirting, so I’ll let you fill in the rest of the implied blanks.

But that was going to be next Spring or something. In the meantime, she was planning a trip to Osaka/Kyoto to go to Universal Studios Japan. Just as Osaka and Kyoto are basically the same city in my uncultured mind, Universal was basically the same as Disney World to me. Which I had not been to. Depsite living so close to it. Because I really just have no interest. I’ve been to Six Flags, the Disney Land/World in Florida, and it’s really all the same to me.

But I was nearing my last year in Japan, and I’d done barely any traveling outside of Tokyo (and climbing Fuji on my second weekend in the country), so this was as good an opportunity as any. Kyoto is so full of things to do and places to see that you couldn’t visit them all if you tried. As a bonus, no weaboo hipster would ever be able to whine about how I lived in Japan for three years and never went to Kyoto.

PLUS THERE WAS ANOTHER DEER SANCTUARY NEARBY so sign me the fuck up.

I had no girlfriend, and Peaches and I had been hinting at hooking up with each other, so whatever, let’s do this.

I met up with Peaches in Osaka/Kyoto.

If it had all gone smoothly, do you really think you’d be reading a story about it on my blog right now?

After two days of hanging out with Peaches, this is what I sent to my friend Glider:

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There’s so much more that this girl did to irritate me that I’ll never be able to remember all of it barring some sort of magic mushroom therapy session. In hindsight, yeah I should have taken notes on my phone, but I didn’t think of ANY of this at the time as “blog-worthy” whatsoever until everyone found that text message exchange with Glider to be absolutely hilarious. In fact, I’m pretty much the only one who doesn’t find it funny. I wasn’t trying to be funny. I just had to vent, and that’s all I could remember while laying in bed at my hostel, train ticket ready for the next day to get the fuck out of there.

For whatever context is necessary in that conversation above, “Nara” isn’t a person, it’s the deer sanctuary nearby that I was going to hit up the following day before heading home. The name blocked out in peach is obviously Peaches. The name blocked out in Yellow was a disastrously dysfunctional mutual coworker of ours.

As for “hopefully the one you meet tomorrow will be way better,” that was referring to another random Tinder date I was going on for my final day in Kyoto (after the friendly deer sanctuary), as I obviously hadn’t learned my lesson. But in a beautiful twist of destiny, I ended up dating her for about three years, so yes she was indeed “way better.”

But let’s get back to Peaches.

I wasn’t kidding when I said I didn’t want her to know where I live. Her little plan to come to Tokyo and stay at my place was off the table. I was gonna ghost this one hard.

I very deliberately did not sleep with her, just in case any of that fundamentalist Christian nonsense about us being “bound together forever” turns out to be true.

Let’s take it from the top.

Her mood swings were reminiscent of my grandmother’s cat who would lovingly purr one minute, and bite your hand the next without any warning in between.

I wouldn’t say she was beach-model-thin or anything, but her insecurity about being fat was textbook histrionic fishing for compliments, and it could not have been more of a turn-off. I played along for the first several of them, but eventually I stopped responding. By the end of the trip, I was actively blowing it off and almost agreeing with her out of spite.

There was no telling whether her “I don’t need a boyfriend” vs “waaaaah why can’t I find a boyfriend” bullshit was intended to suggest I should fill those clown shoes myself. But there was a very telling dynamic between her and her friends.

Along for the ride to Universal Studios Japan in Osaka were two or three of her male friends. They were cool dudes who I would definitely hang out with, but we’ve already demonstrated I’m not always the best at making snap character judgment of those I meet.

I can’t put my finger on exactly WHAT the dynamic was between her and these guys. It wasn’t as simple as “they all fawned over her because they wanted to fuck her.” That’d be too easy. There was almost a light of pity for me that I could see in their eyes, like they felt sorry that I was attempting to broach some sort of romance with Peaches.

Her “she tries to disagree with everything anyone says, and tries to make herself out to be the most knowledgeable one about everything” is called gatekeeping. I didn’t learn that term until years later, but read up on it and you’ll start to recognize it in the people around you that you hate. She did it a bunch. Gatekeeping was just another tool in her arsenal of interpersonal bullshit she used to make herself feel better.

The “acts like she’s mad at me and wants me to try and figure out why” is not something I’m ever gonna be a part of. Be an adult.

Despite the length of that DM I sent to Glider outlining all the passive-aggressive nonsense Peaches subjected me to in the course of a day and a half, there was a bit I left out that was just too long to explain over text.

By the second day, I was openly sick of her, and ignoring most of what she said or did, just trying to enjoy myself at this stupid amusement park I never would have went to on my own in the first place.

She kept trying to hold hands with me, but ONLY in front of her male friends. I don’t know if she was being territorial, or if this was some sort of love-trapezoid I was caught in the middle of, or whatever, but I’m not much of a fan of PDA in the first place. So AS IF I’m gonna hold HER fucking hand.

But she would forcefully grab my hand anyway while we were walking, despite the fact that it was pretty clear to anyone with social skills above “low-functioning aspergers” that I wasn’t reciprocating.

Near the end of it all, with only a couple hours left until she had to take a train ride home to her burrow, I had resorted to putting my hands in my pockets, and just awkwardly walking around like that.

I’ll never fucking forget this.

She couldn’t hold my hand, because they were in my pockets. So she touched my arm, near my elbow. Slid her hand down to my wrist. Wormed her hand into my pocket and placed it over my own hand. Grabbed my hand and deliberately pulled it OUT OF MY POCKET so she could continue to brazenly hold hands with me in front of her friends while we were walking.

This nutjob either can’t understand social cues, or doesn’t want to. Either way, I stopped just short of direct confrontation. I was a little bit afraid she’d show up to my house with a dead rabbit if I’d pushed her too far, but mostly it’s just that there were only a couple hours left to go and it wasn’t worth the energy.

Once she left, I never contacted her again. She didn’t message me at all either though, so who knows what the fuck was going through her mind.

— — — — — — — — — —

And of course I made it to that deer park. Peaches sucked, but I was still gonna have a sweet time.

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