After my latest big-city journey I have begun to have nightmares again of being returned to Japan. Of course in the interim I have acquired the unnecessary and unhelpful tendency to cry silently in my sleep, so I send no queues that scream “wake me up, for godsake!” I get to pry my gluey eyes open as the only conscious creature taking big shuddery breaths in the drizzly pre-dawn gloom. This is the third time in two weeks.

I no longer tell people what my experience was like, really. Enough time has passed that I’ve developed a lively alternate history, complete with gimmicky culture clashes and quaint anecdotes. They are things that happened, but isolated out of context, with most of the negative–the loneliness, the fury, the sexual assault–omitted. The last time I tried to tell someone how much I hated it–without going into explicit detail because I had my pride–he said something thoughtlessly conciliatory like “maybe you should be over this already” and I exploded at him and he ceased talking to me.

So I don’t try anymore.

In this dream, a white guy in doffed suspenders and a muscle shirt stood on a corner beneath the JR line playing a guitar for tips. Women were jockeying like hyenas to get at him. I slunk past on the verge, attempting to make my down the street (to pay a second rent? because some obtuse legal corollary had roped me into needing to pay two somehow?) but he called out to me, accusing me of bitchface and asserting that I should cheer up, I was in fucking Tokyo! “Yeah, Tokyo!” I pantomimed back at him, mimicking his tone of amazement and wonder, at which point he shoved the women around him aside to come after me shaking his guitar, saying I didn’t understand because I couldn’t make music out of anything, and that if I had the means to do so I wouldn’t be such a bitch.

At which point I whirled on him, in the ridiculously overstated manner of dream logic, clutching a guitar of my own and yelling, “I have one, all right?! And all I want to do is hit people with it!”

–which in itself would have been a tear-free end of a dream, but of course it couldn’t end there. I had to end up in some plasticene cell for being unable to pay my two rents, bellowing that they had to let me out because the pill the only professor who was kind to me (and who was dying of cancer) needed, and which cost 1,000,000 yen each, was in my pocket, because he had attempted to help me move before the authorities caught up with me for my lack of funds, during which efforts he dropped his pill in my jumbled apartment. I was, predictably, dismissed as some raving foreigner saying anything to get what she wanted, and the professor died quietly on the other side of town, in a great deal of pain, when I had the means to stave it off in my hands, useless.

And of course, because no sundae would be complete without this cherry on top, he hadn’t even been my professor–I’d sought him out because I’d seen a flyer on campus advertising his efforts to develop a cure for Alzheimer’s. So not only was I losing my only friend, but also–as far as my dream self know–the only chance I had at saving my mom.

It was great, really. Just fantastic. A real cultural smorgasbord and eye-opening experience. Learned lots about myself!


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