I’m lucky. My partner gets home from work around eight o’clock. If you’re unlucky, your partner or spouse gets home after ten. Welcome to the “glamorous” expat life in Tokyo where overseas assignments typically translate into more hours at the office. Seems like I’m always waiting for my man to get home.

But when “work” means an activity with clients or colleagues where alcohol is served and your man gets home around midnight, overly genki and wreaking of beer, then “waiting” seems like a concept best left to the masochistic June Cleavers of the world.

It’s hard not to feel like I’ve been had in these situations. I move to the other side of the fucking world where I’d rather suck Trump than work as a “teacher” at Berlitz or at a private school for the pampered and precocious prodigy of the overly-privileged. I go to the grocery store, plan a meal, cook it, and wait.

The worst is when my guy says, “Shouldn’t it be warmer?” or “I think it needs less pepper.” Well, it WAS warmer when you said you were getting home an hour ago. And I like pepper goddammit. It’s not my fault your lily white palette has problems with spicy food. What, is this Iron Chef America? “I like what you’ve done with the mushrooms though mine are a tad overcooked.” Fuck you. I didn’t move from New York to Sushiville to have my cooking judged by you.

I sit across from the table, eat, listen to the food critiques and the hardships of the day, smile or nod my head accordingly and wonder if we should buy that new sofa after all. It’s a work day ritual I’d rather live without.

But what’s the alternative? Eating dinner at home alone, listening to Billie Holiday sing mindfully, nearly fifty years after her untimely death, of my current situation. Scared I’m going to choke on my cucumber roll or avocado sandwich while listening to “God Bless the Child That’s got his Own.” Indeed. At least my partner will find my dead body while Billie sings “Easy Living” in the background. Poetic justice at last.

And so lately I’ve been taking myself out to dinner. I used to feel guilty about going out to lunch so dinner is actually a big step for me. It’s one thing to be an unemployed trailing partner in Tokyo. It’s quite another to be one who regularly meets the girls for lunch. I mean, just castrate me now.

While eating lunch alone is normal. Eating dinner alone, especially on a busy Friday night, is not. I still bring a magazine to read–papers are too difficult to fold right and books never stay open. I drink my wine, look up occasionally, ponder the lives of others and scowl when I see a misbehaving child. Random thoughts and conversations with myself raise my eyebrows and cock my head until I become aware that I’m doing so while eating dinner alone. God! I must look like a fucking loon! And then I get back to my magazine.

Sometimes I’ll order a dessert and even a coffee–why ruin a good buzz with caffeine? But I figure it’s the proper thing to do. I always smile when the chocolate tort, tart or cake arrives. Sometimes it’s actually pretty good too. And then I wonder what my life would be like now if I never moved to Japan. Would we still live in our beloved Brooklyn or would we live Manhattan? Would we already own? Would we still be in our same jobs? Would I take living in the city for granted or would walks in Central Park still make me realize that living here was a childhood dream realized?

Conversations in Japanese bring me back to reality. I’m here for now and my chocolate dessert isn’t going to eat itself.

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