It is my belief that there are a few things in life that one should never have to experience alone. One of them is celebrating a birthday. Another is being 16 and eating at an empty table in a crowded high school cafeteria. And another is…moving.
Yesterday I moved to my new apartment with only Me, Myself and I for moral support. And the entire time I was hauling my suitcases and garbage bags full of clothing, books and the contents of my fridge (can’t throw away perfectly good imported tortillas!) through the pouring rain, I found myself thinking that right about then would be a nice time to have a boyfriend. Or maybe a mother that lived close by.
Because boyfriends and family members are really the only people you can rely on to drop everything and call-in sick at work to help you haul luggage up two flights of stairs.
I mean, I’m sure my friends would have helped (had I asked), but I didn’t want to bother them. That’s the problem when you have to vacate your apartment by noon on a Friday; everyone’s got something more important to do. Like, earn a living.
But I succeeded in hailing a cab, and explaining to the cabbie where I wanted to go and I was feeling sort of proud of myself. I’d packed, cleaned my apartment, payed my deposit, picked up my keys and hauled everything down the stairs and three blocks to the main avenue, all in under five hours. Just in time to haul my exhausted self to work.
Well, 10 miles and 45 minutes later, the cabbie finally pulled up in front of my new apartment building. To say that we got a little lost would be an understatement, but then that’s not entirely out of the norm for cab rides in Tokyo. I’ve found that a lot of the time, taxi drivers will only pretend to know where they’re going. Sure, they’ll nod self-assuredly and briskly murmur ‘yes, yes’ after you’ve asked given them the address, but then they’ll spend a good long while fiddling with their GPS’s and circling the block; all the while refusing to stop and ask for directions. It’s infuriating.
But the time we spent driving in circles gave the cabbie and I chance to talk, so I didn’t mind. He was old and a bit senile and spent most of the ride mumbling to himself and scratching his head in anxious confusion, but he was an interesting character. I mentioned that I was from New York and he informed me that he once knew someone who lived there. We discussed the rain for a bit and he rambled on about something or other about a car, to which I said ‘yes’ a lot.
After I’d lugged the last bag from the trunk and slammed it shut, I stood in the rain and smiled at him and waved goodbye. He didn’t notice though, because he was hastily lighting a cigarette and as he drove off, I felt this inexplicable urge to shout after him, “Wait! Don’t leave me here all alone just yet!” I imagined what would would happen if he stopped. He’d help me with my luggage and I’d invite him in for tea and together we’d go through the uncomfortable process of meeting my new roommates.
But I resisted the urge and found myself feeling sad to see him go. Bizarre, I know. I’d known him less than an hour! I guess it was because he was a familiar face in an unfamiliar situation. He was the last connection I had to my old neighborhood, my old apartment. Now I was standing on the corner of some unnamed street, hugging my stereo to my chest and staring up at the red brick apartment in front of me. Somewhere on that second floor, my new life (Japan Part 3), lay in wait for me.
And I guess you could say I was feeling a bit wary. A bit unsure of myself.