I feel low. Empty. In a few short hours I will leave the dorm, and this time tomorrow I'll be on a plane. I wonder if this is what a person feels on the morning of their execution: Resolute in my hopelessness, resigned to the fact that one way or another, it's all over now. I've done everything I can. I've spent a year of my life, incurred massive debt, and I'll probably never know for certain if there was any meaning or value to any of it.
I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Chinese hookers off the streets of Koube. I watched drunk gyaaru glittering in the morning light near Kiyamachi. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
I never got to see Udon. We were going to meet one more time, but she got called into work at the last minute. I was crushed. Can't be helped though. We'll see where we're both at next time I'm in town. Whenever that is...
Jesus, it's been a whole year already? Christ, it's only been a year?
I wonder what they'll say about me, when I get back. I barely recognize the person I was when I got here. I've always felt I was a confident person, and a patient one, but that's only gotten stronger. I've gained new skills, of course, and – well, I hope my Japanese has improved, anyway. My curiosity has in no way lessened, but I no longer feel anxious when I don't understand every little detail. I've gotten better at asking for help.
There's nothing left now. I slowly finish the last of my packing. Begin to tidy mine and Cologne's room, taking my time about it. I am so very sad. I--
Holy shit a message from Udon.
“Well, I'm free this afternoon (lol)”
Holy shit holy shit holy shit holy shit holy shit.
I kick into high gear. Oh god. Room check, we have to get ready for it right fucking now. Udon confirms that she is available until 4. It's goddamn 1:30. Ok. Ok ok ok. Toss that shit right the fuck into the suitcase. Shove it in good. It's all crumpled and fucked up! Never mind. Vacuum. Jesus Christ fuck cocks gotta run up and down the fucking hallways and oh god damn it there are no vacuum bags have to run to the first floor and borrow their vacuum. Vacuum vacuum vacuum when did our room get so many corners. Cologne woke up obviously and now he's showering, please oh god oh please for once in your life don't take an eternity in there. Ok ok shove the rest of my clothes in. Um, backpack! Electronics! Ok hopefully that's everything. What if it's not?? Fuck it. Gotta take a chance every once in a while. Can't live your life cloistered in your fucking library. Check all the drawers oh fuck right off I forgot some stuff oh fuck it don't even look just throw the whole pile into the garbage. Oh good he's out of the bathroom ok vacuum the bathroom ok is that good enough? Yeah I'm saying that's good enough. Ask to do my room check two hours early; luck out and get the go-ahead. Dormitory lady pronounces room is spotless. Please god faster. Need to surrender keycard and room keys. It is so fucking hot out and I'm so tired my hands are shaking so bad I can't even slip the key off the ring oh fucking finally there we go.
I skitter back upstairs. Mother Russia isn't in; I will probably never see her again. Goodbye Lithuania! Goodbye French! Goodbye Tiny Korean Girl! Goodbye Korean guy! Goodbye Cologne! Goodbye assistants! Oh fuck that's right – I hurriedly entrust a bag of coffee, one final parting gift for Mother Russia, to one of the assistants. A few people, startled and confused by my leaving ahead of schedule, rush downstairs to see me off, wondering what could have precipitated my haste.
“Take care of Mother Russia,” I request of the dorm staff.
And I'm off and running down the driveway, suitcase rumbling ridiculously in my wake.
I'd envisioned this moment a hundred times, but it never looked like this. Sometimes it included one pensive, final walkabout of the dormitory; perhaps a ceremonial final usage of the keycard that had made so many midnight 7-11 runs possible; and most definitely an overly long, possibly wailed set of goodbyes. Not so here. In a way, it's actually better. I'm afforded a clean break. At the train station, the tears claw at my throat and beg to be released. I ignore them.
I've rushed like fucking nobody's business. And at 3:20, I finally meet up with Udon.
I'm exhausted and incoherent and I look like shit but she doesn't even mind. We sit in Starbucks and we talk until 4:30, when she finally admits that she really does have to get to work. Of course I wish we could have spent more time together, but it's just about the perfect length of time for a goodbye. We have a lot of fun. We have a fairly frank conversation about what might happen between us when I come back to Japan, and although a million things can happen in even six months (the absolute minimum time I'll be away), we leave the door open.
I do realise that I'm kind of fixating on a girl that I've only actually met three times, but there is something there. There is definitely something there. If we'd met in, say, March, I'm positive we'd be dating by now. But then, even such a short time ago, I was a completely different person, so – although I don't believe in any conspiracy of God or “the Universe” meddling in human relationships – in a way perhaps it had to happen now.
As we're walking to Hankyuu Kawaramachi so she can see me off, I realise that she is the last person I'll see this year. How fitting, I remark. She laughs. It's really just about the best sendoff I could have hoped for.