The Long Walk Home (in Tokyo)

It’s difficult to pack for a trip overseas, especially when you will be travelling for a month. I checked the weather reports and asked people on the ground, but it wasn’t until I arrived at the Harajuku part of Tokyo (where teenagers dress in crazy/outlandish and awesome outfits — complete with fake eyelashes, colored contacts and blond hair — and young girls dress in adorable uniformed skirts and pigtails) that I realized I was completely under-dressed. My uniform these days is typically whatever doesn’t clash too much with my hiking boots, or rather whatever is the most comfortable and makes me look the most like an American tourist.

It was in one of those outfits that I sat at a cafe in Tokyo biding my time while I waited for Daniel who was having a solo dinner across the street. He had made the reservation before coming to Japan. Known as one of the best “underground” sushi restaurants in the world, with only 7 seats, a set progression of dishes and totalling upwards of $200, we thought it best that he eat there alone. Not that I don’t have a taste for fine food, but moreso — actually no, that’s exactly why I didn’t go. Essentially, you sit at the bar and are served dish after delectable dish of amazing, super fancy seafood made by a master sushi chef who is standing across from you the entire meal. There are no vegetarian menus. In fact, there are no menus at all. The diner is at the whim of the chef, and the outcome is usually incredible. Again, unless you’re a Vegetarian —  in which case it would just be an awkward exchange of repeatedly asking for an avocado roll, and embarrassingly being turned down.

But I digress. Being that it was my first trip to Japan (and only my second day on the ground here), I decided to wait at a cafe across the street from Daniel’s magic dinner until he was nice and full and we could go home together. But, as Im learning, things dont always go as planned when you’re in a foreign country for the first time and your boyfriend is in a sushi-induced hallucinatory state.

I had been waiting at the cafe for only 1/2 hour when I started feeling sick. I quickly realized the culprit of my illness was that I had been walking the streets of Tokyo all day in the heat and sun with little to drink (my own fault). So I was dehydrated, and soon becoming very nauseated. But Daniel had said the dinner would only take an hour, so I felt encouragement every time I saw the clock’s second hand inch closer to the 8 o’clock mark.

By the time I received his text, I was feeling pretty bad. And his message didn’t make me feel better: “This is taking longer than I thought. Sorry, going to be a little while.”

Crap. So I wrote back: “Shoot, I’m feeling pretty sick.

And he wrote back something along the lines of: “I guess you will have to find your way home — on your own —  in Tokyo, while trying not to throw up, as I eat my heart out at this amazing restaurant where I’m having the best time of my life. God Speed.” (I’m paraphrasing, but that was the idea.)

So, at 8pm on my second day in Tokyo, in my own personal hallucinatory state of sweat, dizziness and frustration, I found my way back 3 blocks to the train station, a couple stops on the subway, and then a short walk back to our little ryokan guest house.  I was a bit confused, worried and nauseated. But after a 25 minute commute, I got home feeling accomplished and proud (and nauseated). Daniel arrived about 30 minutes later beaming with delight over the dinner he just had. He said it may have been the best meal of his life. After seeing the pictures, I think I made the right decision to go home on my own. (Especially since the alternative was sitting outside the restaurant, crying and throwing up). This trip is already so incredibly different than our journey around the country. And if I can make it walking home by myself in a strange country where I don’t speak the language, I’m probably going to be eating dog by the time I get to China. Just kidding. Don’t be mad at Daniel… he had no choice (see picture):