As the dusk began to fall over the warm, sunny Tacoma sky and we continued to explore the industrial area just across the Tacoma Bridge. My wife kept asking “Do you smell that?” “It smells like shit.” After checking the bottom of my shoes and my tighty whities. I confidently replied “That’s horse shit.” Quickly and visibly puzzled, she cocked her head before asking “How do you know the difference between the smell of dog shit and horse shit?” Knowing an answer was required. I quickly replied “I grew up in New York City.” Despite that lingering smell and the questions of it’s origins. I really enjoyed my time under and around Tacoma Bridge.
As we headed to Tokyo. I couldn’t help but feel a bit anxious. The combination of an empty stomach. My Sister-in-Laws taste in music and the fact that I had accidentally walked in on her as she was finishing up her shower were all in clear focus. Somehow those factors would stay with me for what seemed to be a long ride. Fortunately, for me and my wife. A really good meal washed any and all anxiety I may have carried in to the city that day. After an excellent meal at Tiger Gyoza Hall. We headed towards the Asakusa Shrines. A small, yet highly populated area I fell in love with during my first trip to Japan in 2001.
This was my third trip to Tokyo since we arrived and I promised myself to be a little more open minded about the city than I had been in my two prior posts on the big city. Aa we inched closer to our destination the crowds thickened and I went from dodging passing bicyclists to avoiding collisions with pedestrians. Overall, it was a great day. The shrines were packed and I was both visually and spiritually stimulated. Tomorrow we’ll be heading back to Tokyo to have lunch with one of Kayuri’s closest friends Junko. (June-Ko) She was the head of my wife’s bridal party at our wedding. So it only seems fit that she will be taking us out for lunch and to see Star Wars “The Force Awakens”. Things are getting interesting around here… and elsewhere.
I woke up from my best sleep yet at about 8:00 am. Three hours later than my previous days here. After a short breakfast, headed downstairs to soak in the hot springs. After a thorough soak and a refreshing shower. I headed to the adjacent room to dry off and get dressed before heading upstairs. Suddenly, I realized I had forgotten to bring a towel and the only thing there in the room to help me dry off was a box of tissues by the sink. Sopping wet with no phone or buttons to push for help. I took the shirt I wore downstairs and wrapped it around my waist hoping to slink back to the apartment unnoticed. Unfortunately for me and anyone else who might run into me in the halls or elevator. My entire back side was left exposed. With no other choice I began my journey back to where I started. First, the hallway, check. Elevator, check. Front entrance, check. I was home free. That was until one of the staff curiously peeked out from his office. Noticeably soaked and ¾ naked.
I did my best to back track my way up the stairs. Bowing respectfully, repeating Japanese pleasantries as I attempted to slink my way towards the apartment. While his view of my back side may have been limited to just a few seconds. I’m sure the memory will haunt him to his grave and beyond.
As I got back to the apartment I called down the long narrow hall for Kayuri. Instead, her Mom was the first to respond erupting in laughter as she looked on. Next in line was Kayuri’s Dad who immediately reached for the camera bag to document the holiday cheer. The laughter throughout the apartment could not be contained. We were all holding our belly’s, attempting to recover, long after I got hold of a towel. I’m glad I chose such wonderful people to expose myself to. A less humorous group might not take it so lightly. This little exchange far outweighs the first time her parents saw my tattoos, thinking I was in a gang. Or the time then entire family tried to coax a scorpion out the bathroom. Merry Christmas.
Strangely enough, I have little to no memories of my parents time together. Being that their marriage was long over by the time I was six and legally documented by divorce papers before I ever entered the second grade at the age of seven. It’s hard to recall or visualize much at all. The two or three events that have stuck with me all these years are not, by any means worth revisiting.
As I do grow older, many of the memories of my very early life have been kept alive and unexplainably visual through story telling and writing about people and events that took place so many years ago. Some of my stronger memories from that time revolve around the toys and for the most part, action figures I collected throughout my childhood. Graduating to puberty and eventually adulthood. Much of the collections from my childhood were sold, donated or given to anyone willing to take them. In some very rare cases. I’ve come to reacquire some of the rarer or more unique items through flea markets and ebay searches.
For years I somehow held on to the the memory of one of my Mom’s eccentric friends giving me a Horshack figure from the then popular show “Welcome Back Kotter”. No, not Vinnie Barbarino, Freddie (Boom Boom) Washington, Epstein of even Mr. Kotter. The one and often lonely only Horshack. In limited searches over the years I’ve seen the boxed figure going upwards of sixty bucks on Ebay. I’ve even come across a buck naked, broken legged one at a Connecticut Flea Market priced at a dirty thirty. Finding this excellent condition nerd DeJour on Ebay for the price of a happy meal gave me an enduring nerdgasm I won’t soon forget. After years of searching. I finally hit gold. The only thing left to do was share. Enjoy.
One morning last week there came an authoritative knock on my door. On the other side of the door was a Viking helmet adorned neighbor blowing a horn declaring a day of action. Knowing the call of a Viking and the failure to properly follow Viking code full well. I followed him down to where the bikes, horses and Viking ships are docked. It had been a couple of years since I’d been on a a bike. (My last one, as well as every bike I’ve ever know has been stolen at one point or another.) Knowing full well my history as well as my recent battles with gravity. Said friend let me take a spin around the safely enclosed garage to help me get familiar. After a few twists, turns, crashes and fall downs. I was granted my own Viking helmet and we were off. And while our buildings surroundings aren’t very bike or hike friendly. A sturdy mountain bike and a seasoned leader more than get the job done.
After a short ride down the hill and a slight turn to the right. It seemed that we hit pay dirt. For that road led to all the things I love and enjoy both exploring and photographing. Trains, factories, train yards… You name it. The only thing missing was a junk yard with featuring an unchained rabid guard dog. I felt like a kid again. We hadn’t even made it half way to the end and I was already making reservations to return. After a few stops to take in the sites atop the railroad cars We took the road all the way to Secaucas before hitting what seemed to be the river of deceit.
After a break and a survey of the land we had discovered, conquered and thoroughly photographed. We headed back on the rocky path that brought us there. As time had passed I had become more and more comfortable with the slightly oversized bike. So much so that my buddy gave me his official thumbs up. Half way back, the days heat, coupled with my lack of balance began to take their toll. Like a good soldier, I kept the pace. Assuring myself that, once we get passed this rocky strip of road and onto solid pavement, I’m home free. Then, as soon as I hit solid ground. Every ounce of strength I had left gave out and I hit the pavement like a hundred and forty pound sack of wet bricks. Aside from a few bumps, bruises and damaged ego. I was fine. Though I ended up walking the bike the rest of the way home. The trip and the overall experience, as well as the opportunity to earn my very own Viking helmet, were more than worth the spilt blood. That weekend I returned, on foot of course, and did some more exploring as a solo act. I really love that the area we chose to live in offers such a diverse and colorful landscape.
We were driving through Connecticut this afternoon when my wife, a native of Japan saw this big sign alongside the road. She asked, like any foreigner to our darker, more seedy rituals “What’s a Hoedown?” Seizing the moment like a tried and true wise ass. I replied. “It’s when a hooker (Hoe) fails to bring back the expected amount of money to her pimp.” I replied. “When a hoe don’t show.” “That hoe goes down.” And I would have convinced her if I had managed to keep a straight face. A few minutes later we came across this scene and my bad joke was forgotten.
As we left the exhibition last night and began walking up the ramp towards Senate St. we slowed our pace to distance ourselves from the rather loud and obnoxious tie dyed fool just ahead of us. Knowing full well that someone wearing a Grateful Dead shirt is most likely not used to making good lifestyle choices and could go off on a Cherry Garcia rage at any moment. We brought our pace to a full “Let’s just stand here and watch the sunset.
Passing our local and somewhat private community park. We noticed the same man flicking his cigarette as he rolled around in the grass. While I was initially angered by his antics. I was quickly reminded of the wonderful thing we call Karma when we recalled an earlier notice that the entire park was sprayed with enough pesticide to kill a small child, dog or hippie. I couldn’t help but rejoice in devilish laughter. “That’s Karma your rollin’ in.” Just wait, it’ll happen.