Separating Across Tokyo.

I miss you. I do.

Schedules fill with meetings across Tokyo. I might pass through 80 stations on the subway in a day. My mind wanders on the rides. I look at ads and listen to music and the flashes of light on the glass turn into mirrors in the dark tunnels. I can almost see you standing next to me in the reflections like you did when you lived here.

Once a month we would have an "our" day and we'd more than likely sit together and watch movies over bowls of popcorn, a bottle of wine and coffee. Then we would re-enact lines and laugh. 

"How many husbands have you had?"
"Mine or all the others?"
"Just the five, husbands should be like tissues - soft, strong and disposable!" 

We would put the DVD back in, finish watching Clue to the end, and then say which of the three endings we wanted to believe this time around.

The times people looked at us and thought we were a couple was both laughable and a compliment. I think I could have no better mate in life. And your partners? I could share you with another man as long as your wedding vows stated I saw you first.

We Skype and call nowadays, and exchange memes and links by tickling keys on our laptops or touching glass points on our smartphones. They are our little post-it notes with double entendres, like those I delighted in leaving on your locker when our schedules didn't mesh at work ("somebody loves me"). The notes would then be pulled down and housed lovingly on the inside your door.

The rest of the staff thought it was cute. Images of the family cat sitting at the edge of the driveway waiting to escort my father back to the house come to mind. I was the faithful pet waiting for his mistress. When one of us sat down on the sofa in the staff lounge, we always saved a spot for the other. A pat on the sofa signalled that one's presence was sought and desired.

I think of you every day. I moved into your locker when you transferred down the line. You moved just a few offices away and that was our first separation. I could handle that - you were still in Tokyo. I saw you a bit less each day but we still had our together days and could meet for coffee symbolically halfway between our offices. It was fun. I hadn't lost you. I was learning to ride a bicycle and had one training wheel taken off.  

When you were dating, I was there to listen and ask questions. I could behave a while and then make a rude, suggestive joke. You promptly yet urbanely brushed it off as no more than a sprinkling of icing sugar on a blue Gap dress, like the one you wore as Monika Lewinsky at Halloween. Your other male friends were never a threat to me - I was the threat to them. My name popped up like unwanted dandelions on a prized lawn during your pre-wedding sessions with your priest and fiance. I never realized how much of an impact I made on them because I was always looking at you.

I prayed you could have your Prince Charming and stay in Tokyo (talk about having my cake and eating it, too). You could have him at home and me in the afternoon for coffee. Life would be perfect.  

At some point, the inescapable gravity of family brought you back to the US and now I was faced with the separation like an abyss. Here I am. Where are you?

We would meet. Planes do fly both ways. You are exceptionally lucky having flown in the day after a blizzard and leaving the day before the March 11 earthquake. And I am honor bound by my promise to make sure my flights are diverted over the Rockies. When I fly home it means I fly to Texas, too.

You announced your wedding. When our mutual friends heard about the big day, they came to console me. It was a wedding announcement, not a ransom note! I was amused that everyone thought I would go into mourning. Really, I had no intention of losing my best, best friend (besides, I would be gifted with nieces and nephews - you and I have become family in some undefined way).

So every year I come back and visit the little part of my soul I left in your keeping. See? I'm not lonely; I am just in pieces. You can't say we are apart because deep down, I refuse to leave you when I step on the plane for igloos north.

 This article was first published on 31 July 2016