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    安楽

    I was going to post this immediately after putting this up about my trip to Taiwan. Then I just kind of didn’t and figured it was expendable. Then I read a few things that kept reminding me of the topic and thought–this is one of the bad things blogging does to you–Hey, I’ve still got that post I didn’t put up, and there’s still time to GIVE IT TO THE WORLD! So this is the other thing that struck me, not for the first time, over the weekend.

    I ended up staying at the apartment of the woman who runs the office there–my trip had been arranged pretty hastily, and I guess there are a lot of people trying to get things done in Taipei before the Chinese New Year. My flight was delayed by rain and fog here in Tokyo; when we got in at her building, we had a midnight supper (tortellini and green salad and beer–quick and casual but, for me, like la Tour d’Ar-freakin’-gent after the stuff on the airplane) and talked animatedly for a while before turning in. We had several other meals together in the next few days–we’ve known each other for years and have become friends, and food in Taiwan is yummy–and I went out for lunches and stuff in various pick-up groups with other people from the office. Some of it was shop talk; I was there for shop, after all. But a lot of it was just the kind of stuff you find yourself talking about with other foreigners who live in Asia (and with Asians who’ve spent time living in the West; the groups tend to be mixed).

    And I kept finding myself thinking how much I like the people I’m surrounded by and, despite my need to spend loads of time alone and my spiel about being a loner, how easy it is to talk to them.

    The sheer relief of being able to say that catches up with me at odd moments. Growing up, I never really expected to be in my element. Not that I expected to be a full-on hermit. I was a pretty unpopular kid, but I was never really, seriously, scarily isolated. I always had a few close friends. And they were real, serious friends. I’m only in consistent contact with one of them now, but there’s enough writing back and forth with two or three of the others that if by some chance I do go to our twenty-year reunion, I won’t be in the dark about which marriages and children and career paths go with whom.

    But without really verbalizing it to myself, I essentially figured I’d turn into one of those elderly bachelors who dote on their books and stuff and don’t socialize much and (needless to say) never really have even one serious romance. I genuinely love books, so I wasn’t too bothered. The implied lack of romance also didn’t disturb me, since my best efforts to get worked up over girls came to naught, anyway. And as I say, I always had a very small but genuine set of friends, and you can’t complain about that.

    Like most people who only really grew into their personalities in college and afterward, though, I found it a new experience to be able to talk to people–just people in general–without having that constant low-level hum in my head that I had to stay reined in so I didn’t give myself away somehow. Most of it, yes, was that I’d lost the subconscious fear of inadvertently saying or doing something that might make me look like a fag. (You kind of have to get over that if you’re going to call men “honey” as often as I do.) And yet it was a lot of other little general-personality things, too: Being around people who know what it’s like to want to move far away from where you grew up even though you love your family and the upbringing they gave you–that’s a big one. And having it just assumed in the background, so that you don’t have to keep explaining it all the time.

    This is turning into one of those posts that dissolve into purposelessness. Perhaps it’s just that I’ve written so many querulous this-article-SUCKS posts this week that I seem to be projecting a rather crabby mood and wanted to write about something positive. Atsushi can’t get back for our anniversary tomorrow, but we’ll be celebrating next week. Several friends of mine whose relationships ended last year are finding love…or at least fun distractions. The 300th anniversary of Ben Franklin’s birth was a few days ago. A close college friend is getting married in May. Things are good, even if a lot of people are saying dumb things about Japan.

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