I was tempted to publish the title of this blog and leave the content blank.  But that would be too bitter, even for me, and not at all accurate.

I remember my 7th grade Texas History teacher (he doubled as the girls’ volleyball coach) would make fun of his students when they got an answer wrong in class by saying, “I’m going to write a book about you (dramatic pause) and leave it blank.”  This was funny on the first day but wore thin towards the end of the semester.  When one hapless boy in class tried to beat our teacher to the punch line and said, “You’re gonna leave it blank, right Sir?” he was sent to the office.

And so, it isn’t true that I’m going to leave Japan an angry brown man when I board a U.S. bound Boeing 777 on Tuesday.  I plan to pause dramatically before entering the plane, touch the fuselage with my right hand for luck like I always do, turn my head back slowly, meet the eyes of whoever is behind me (probably a squat, middle-age Japanese man with bad breath and a comb-over), arch my eyebrows and say, “Four years, my friend.  It’s time.  It’s time.”

I’ll miss, in random order and forgetting several important memories due to brain-cell killing booze fests and anti-depressants, the following things:

My apartment and the immediate view of the small park across the street, the towers of Shinjuku in the distance.

Those two nice, old, grocery-checkout ladies at the local supermarket.  They always manage to make me feel better after a bad day.  The other checkout clerks are weirdos.

Early Friday evenings in my neighborhood, Ebisu, when the mood is especially playful and the energy palpable.

Rasoi, the best Indian restaurant in the world near the Meguro train station.

Volunteering on Friday mornings to make onigiri (rice balls) for the homeless at Tokyo Union Church–my fellow volunteers were priceless.

The Westin Lobby Bar and those killer martinis.

Makin’ love in the green grass, behind the stadium, with you…Oh wait, that’s “My Brown Eyed Girl”

Shopping for furniture on Meguro Dori.

The Press Club.

That Hawaiian themed snack bar with the big deck facing Tokyo on Odaiba.  The older surfer lady who ran the joint had this way about her.  Really sexy.  And I’m gay.

Getting a corner seat on the subway or train.

Spending the extra Yen to take the green car on any long train ride.

Taking the shinkansen with my partner to Osaka, Kyoto, Fukuoka, Nagasaki…

My solitary walks throughout this amazing city I love to bitch about.  I’ve walked from Asakusa to Daikenyama, Ebisu to Ueno.  I know this city well.  God, how I do love exploring cities.

Natto.  Tofu.  Soba.  I’m a vegetarian but the limited options available in this country are yummy.  Yes, natto is yummy.

The friends I’ve made.  The real ones, not the pretend expat ones.

Karaoke.  Japanese style booths shared with friends or your partner, not American karaoke clubs.

Onsen, but only because my partner liked it so much he managed to make me enjoy it too.  I can’t spend a long time up to my neck in boiling water, call me crazy.

My toilet with the seat warmer.  Hell, all Japanese toilets, except those holes in the ground “traditional” toilets.  Yuck.

Watching people pray at the Ebisu shrine next door to my apartment building.  And no, I don’t stare.  I’m not rude!

Azabu International Supermarket but only because it’s the only store that carries corn tortillas.

Arisugawa park, especially when you find yourself alone in the late afternoon and the ducks don’t even notice you.

Maybe I could continue, but my housekeeper is coming and I need to do some pre-cleaning.  I’m a Virgo.

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