A comment popped up in the feed of my suggestions one day.
The blog I had started became a little popular when I wasn't looking. I have 103 followers now.
It was surprising.
It was my day off and I had nothing to do, studying made me light-headed and I was so sick and tired of being cooped up in the salon that I felt like bashing my head against a wall.
That was when I suddenly remembered it.
Anon: [I heard there are a lot of weird things in Japan? Is that true?]
Did I say I was going to Japan? Ah, my last post mentioned it. Hmm...
Weird things. I also heard things like that in the past.
Since I had nothing to do, I decided to explore the area. Camera, tripod, selfie-stick I packed it away in a bag and ventured off.
It didn't take me long.
I snapped a picture.
[Weird Thing #1]
A vending machine dedicated to bananas.
For some reason reading those words made me smile.
What the hell? That's so random. This unexpected find made me giddy.
I bought one and took a selfie of me holding it.
What the heck am I doing? I'm no better than Claire...
As I explored the town, I found a shopping department. I had read many mature mangas in the past about office romances of women that worked at shopping departments. As I set foot inside it felt surreal, I'm in a place that inspired shoujo!
Hmm... I looked around and bought a couple of things here and there, limiting myself to one item or none. It was mostly perfumes and jewelry.
So far, nothing caught my eye. But then on the bottom level of the store, there was a pair of suede brown heeled laced boots. And a pair of red wedge-heeled booties. Dammit, I hate it that this just so happened to be a store for gyarus. I hated falling into stereotypes!
I quickly bought the boots.
Thankfully there was a beauty store that sold some perfume and lotion. I bought a couple before ejecting myself. They all smelled so nice...
I encountered a book store.
I can now read manga in perfect Japanese, it took me a couple of minutes to realize it and as I blinked at the page, the kanji and hiragana suddenly felt foreign again. I held my head.
I've really gotten used to living here huh? It's still bizarre to me that I can recognize these characters. Well, I suppose I have Kagami and anime to thank for that. Well... Kagami mostly...
I heard someone say as I read. They kept repeating it over and over.
I finished reading my book and put it down only to find a bespectacled girl standing in front of me.
"Ah, hello... Amamiya-san..." she smiled and waved, but the air around her felt off, strained almost.
My jaw dropped for a second. I felt terrible.
"Were you talking to me?!"
"...E-ehto? Isn't that your last name..."
"That's my step-Father's! You can just call me Amara!"
Her mouth widened. "Ah! I see!..." She politely dipped her head. "I'm sorry!"
I shook my head and hands, feeling like a donkey. "No, no! No one ever addressed me by my last name so I'm not used to it! It's... my fault... I haven't gotten used to it..."
She looked relieved, her gaze gravitating to the ground. "O-oh... even so... I feel apologetic!"
I hope she didn't think I was making excuses..."You don't need to be..."
"No, I'm sorry, please don't be..."
I felt like if I weren't careful we might end up going in circles.
The bespectacled girl blinked at me. She seemed rather timid.
"Who... are you?" I asked.
She blinked at me, her narrow eyes widening, "Huh?"
Her eyes clouded, and her gaze fixed to the floor. She muttered something.
"I'm sorry? What was that."
"I sit... behind you."
Can you hear my inner donkey?
I bit my lip hard. "Um... I'm sorry."
She softly smiled while adjusting her glasses, she was looking down a lot so it was beginning to slide off. "It's nothing, I have... a small presence."
Jesus Christ. Another Kagami, I felt as though I were staring at another version of myself and instinctively averted my gaze to her nose.
"No, no, aside from Kagami and my professors, I don't really go out of my way to pay much mind to anybody from school."
"Kagami? You mean...Fukuda-san?" Her eyes lit up. "The boy who's always late and looking at you in class?"
I think I heard something upsetting just now. Is that the reason why he's always getting yelled at? Because of me?
It disturbed me to the point I felt self-conscious. Was my hair still wet from showering? What if the gel dried and stuck to the sides of my ear making it look dirty? The endless possibilities plunged my self-esteem into the pits. Did I have something on my face? Should I wear a beanie to school like back in texas?
Still, on the outside I somehow managed to calmly explain, "He's my neighbor."
"Oh!" The girl softly clapped her hands together, nodded, and smiled a small smile. "That makes sense..hehe so the transfer students are neighbors, what a small world."
"So..." As I stared at her I tried to remember all the times I had to pass up papers. "Arima Katsumi-san was it?"
Her face lit up.
Thank god. You can stop breying now inner donkey. That's right, shut up.
"I remember pretty much the names of all my classmates just not their faces."
It wasn't a lie.
When I first transferred, I had made it a personal goal of mine to memorize their names and the positions they sat in as a fun activity to practice reading Japanese.
Japanese schools weren't like America. It was very much similar to Jamaica, you were always sitting down inside. Teachers come and go, and unless it's a special class like P.E, the science room, or art class, you weren't allowed to leave. So the backs that were always facing me and the people behind me, I never bothered looking at their faces.
Back then and still now my goal was to recognize the characters and focus on what activity the teacher was asking of me.
Looking away or behind me would cause me to miss something. I never noticed Kagami had entered until he was called out and even then when he got yelled I was always distracted.
I can't believe he looks at me that often.
A heavy sigh escaped me as I tried to process it all.
No, no, I might self-destruct, quickly a distraction! "So... Arima-san do you come here often?"
"Huh? No. I barely leave my house."
Mmm. She looked like the type. Not that I'm one to talk, but she makes it obvious. You can normally tell how often a person leaves their home by how well they groom themselves.
I was once like her and barely saw the merit in doing extra when I wasn't even going to leave the house, I also didn't know how to do my hair.
But ever since I came to Japan, I was met with the constant pressure of needing to look my best. Since I was always met with the possibility of a Japanese meeting a black person for the first time I didn't want them to experience any negative stereotypes, like I smell or my hair looks tacky or dirty.
To be honest, it was a pain, I always had to wake up early, but the anime I watched ingrained in me a love for this country that couldn't be helped. I don't think I could handle leaving a bad impression on someone Asian. I loved their culture, so I hope they don't mind me too much.
So long as my feet were on this land I needed to be the best version of myself possible. I had vowed that to myself. But to be honest, it's exhausting. I want to go home and wear an afro. I want to walk down the street feeling comfortable shoving a beanie or hoodie on my uncombed head. I want to be a shameless slob. I miss that.
But I'd be lying if I didn't feel a bit more confident when I saw my groomed reflection in the mirror.
As I thought, this girl... she reminded me too much of myself. I should leave.