3:00 AM: Wake Up. It’s so cold that I actually wake up to turn on my heater. I even put on socks.
6:10 AM: Alarm goes off. Snooze. 6:25 AM: Wake Up. Fuck, I’m late. I check the flight information. Arrives at 6:59. Fuck, now I’m really late. At 6:55 I take a seat in the International Arrivals Terminal. At the sound of the lawn-mower, everyone looks up expectantly. I hope it’s my daddy says a 6 year-old half-breed (btw Kat, she ruins our theory regarding the relatedness of Asian-lookingness and Asian mothers vs Asian fathers). But it’s not her daddy. And it’s not Kaori. It’s a solitary man, looking, if possible, even more bedraggled and tired than I feel. This scene is repeated every 5 minutes. 7:45 AM: I fail to recognize Kaori. She cut her hair, if that somehow works as an excuse. My Japanese catches in my throat. It comes out forced and choppy. Like that girl who rocks back and forth in Conversation class.
We grab some breakfast at the Golden Touch. A complete role-reversal. I’m supposed to be the helplessly illiterate one who needs the menu explained to her. The servers, not understanding the situation grow impatient every time we ask for a few more minutes. How do you explain creamy potatoe (yes, with an “e”) soup with bacon? Does it need much more explaining? The answer is apparently yes. We veto the soup. When our food arrives, Kaori’s eyes widen in shock. The Japanese don’t do their bacon crispy.
12:30 PM: Bus Stop Located. Do you want to buy your own ticket? ::vigorous head-shaking:: One-way to Eugene please. Lucky for her; that’s the last one. Gate 9. Tsuita atode, denwashite. Hai (she still hasn’t called). She thanks me for spending the morning with her. It’s genuine and I’m touched. How quickly I’d forgotten what it’s like to be alone and scared in a foreign country. Knowing enough to get around, but not understanding the intricacies and underground networkings of the system. We say our see you soons and then she’s gone. I missed her more than I realized. She was real and tangible – proof that I hadn’t spent the past semester dreaming.
Miraculously, I find my way over to the REI downtown. Closed for Easter, March 27, 2005. Okay, I buy that. I head over to Pioneer Place in hopes of returning a shirt. I pull into the parking garage and push the button to receive my ticket, but nothing happens. The girl next to me seems to be having trouble too. I push the button again. Stupid machines. And then I see the sign: “Parking Garage closed for Easter, March 27, 2005.” Can you even do that? Fine, whatever. Free parking for me. Not that it matters. The entire mall is closed. You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. This is Portland. It’s not a small city. Not everyone living here is Christian. Liquor stores close on Sunday, the speed limit is 55 on the freeway, and now entire shopping malls filled with godless corporate monsters are closed on holidays. This begs the question as to why there are so many people walking around on the street in the rain if there’s nothing open. And I’m guessing by their designer jackets and purses that they’re not homeless.
1:30 PM: I head home. I’m in a trance; I can barely comprehend what’s going on around me. How have I already been up for almost 8 hours? Have I been dreaming? Will I wake up any moment in my bed with my socks on and heater running? I need to stay awake. Otherwise I’ll never sleep tonight. I guess I could drink some coffee.
At least Starbuck’s is open.