13 December 2005

Love and shoe-gazing

Let's try love.

I'm kicking myself for posting the pictures of me and Yoko on Sunday because I realized how unfair they are to the actual relationship and how pictures like this tend to gloss over everything that is real about making couplehood work. Because her smell or a kiss stolen in a church sanctuary or the moment of understanding on the Agano River are not daily things. They fall in between the everything else of going to work and being tired from studying and not really feeling it some of the time. Maybe these moments of simple and perfect expressed love are important because they drive things or maybe they are poison because they make us believe that love is possible. Let's try in between: that same sky that is a petal pressed in the book of memory that Rich Mullins sung about in a song I remember.

I have been thinking about this: "Love is patient, love is kind." That whole chapter of I Corinthians, though probably having lost some of i's power in being recited carelessly in wedding chapels, is really right now. "Love is patient" or "Love keeps no record of wrong" is a lie in a wedding, dressed up in front of all your friends. They are just niceties to make everyone cry and think happy thoughts. They only mean something when you are clinging to them in anger and fighting the everything about you that is bad and evil and raging against patience.

So yes, love is kisses in karaoke booths and sitting hip-to-hip on piano benches, but it is also, necessarily, long car rides in silence and the terror that comes up when you encounter something you don't know if you will be able to cope with. It is barely holding hands, standing in the space of another person and then it is still, intense anger and self-control.

How trite is all of that that.

Today I was in the locker room at the gym and sort of made eye contact with this Japanese guy, but didn't think much about it until he tried to sit down on the bench where I had all my stuff sprawled out. He said, Excuse me, in English, which isn't that rare as Japanese men in gyms sometimes like to throw out a "Sank yuuu" or "Ha-low" to show that the six years of mandatory English education have not been wasted on them. I responded in Japanese, and he said, in Japanese, You speak Japanese? then in unaccented English, I'm an American.

This guy is like 62 — totally built — from Los Angeles and has lived there for 32 years, but is back in Niigata taking care of his mother, blah, blah. I thought it was weird to meet a Japanese-American in Japan, and I gave him my card and said we should drink sometime and he said that would be great.

I did my cardio-workout and was getting ready to flail around on the weight machines when he appeared again and told me that he was a personal trainer and proceeded to squeeze me on my hips and say, "Yes, you have typical American fat. If you don't keep working out, you're just going to balloon out." Oh, I said, well, you should see my father. "Here," he said lifting up his arm, "Touch that. See? Hard, right?" Yes, I said, with my hand on his ribs, very good. "You gotta work out everyday for that. I'm 62, do I look 62?" No, I said, you certainly don't. "Are you Jewish?" he asked, still touching me. Uh, no, no, I said, No, I'm not. "It's just that Jewish people have this problem a lot" (poking my back) "They carry a lot of weight here."

This led to him taking me on a tour of the machines that I needed to use to lose my Jewish-American fat. He also said, "You know you walk all hunched over. Like this:" and then showed me how I walked. Yes, I said, I've been told that before. "Did you have an injury in high school?" No, I said, I just sort of walk that way. "Very bad," he said, "You gotta fix that. You gotta walk like someone is pulling your hair from the top. "

He had me doing all these American fat losing exercises with barbells and a lot of "See, you feel that? Right there?" while poking my stomach and love handles. Honestly, I didn't really feel it until he poked me, but was polite and kept saying, Oh certainly, yes, very good. He told me, "I usually do this for Hollywood types" and I wondered if it was different trying to get rid of my American fat than the fat of the Hollywood types.

He disappeared after a time, and I went home, slightly sore. For what it's worth, I've been taking workout advice from everyone and their mother recently. Why not from Freddy? "Yeah, that's right," he said, "Everyone just calls me Freddy."

Advent. Maybe I understood advent better as a kid. It was that calendar that my Grandma sent every year, with the little windows that you would open on December mornings. It was all about waiting and waiting and really understanding expectation. Now? I don't wait for anything. I just do what I want when I want, and if anything, I want time to slow, for tomorrow to not come, for Christmas to stay in the future because it means I have to take some action and I hate taking action these days.
Lastly, I discovered an even worse place than your living room to spill kerosene. That's right, on your groceries in your car. Washing kerosene off of orange juice cartons can only be described with this very useful Japanese phrase 気持ち悪い (ki-mo-chi-wa-ru-i, or as the kids say ki-mo-i). This phrase is one half "feeling" or "emotion" and one half "bad" (in the evil sense, not so much the "snow is bad" sense). I should hire someone to take care of all my kerosene needs in the future.