I walked into the large studio and everyone was wearing their white karate outfits with different belt colors. I, on the other hand, was wearing the most fashionable Lululemon yoga clothing on the market. I felt like those weirdo women up in Whistler that walk around in the latest Jimmy Cho high heels, black tights and leopard print down jackets (with some serious cleavage showing) and large Ferragamo sunglasses. It’s a wonder these women don’t freeze to death during the Great White North winters, but they seem to be quite comfortable just strolling around town. Clad in my Lululemon armor which included a pink top and tight black pants, complete with a perky ponytail and a pink Lululemon headband, I stood my ground against the invasion of the army of white cloaks and colored belts. As we dove into the exercises and the instructor counted in Japanese, I felt a deep connection to my life in Japan, my focus as a climber, the image of Kendo swords with Daniel. And I was high. High on that feeling that is life itself, that feeling I used to get when my head wasn’t buried in work. That feeling that brings you back to a time you were running around and playing street hockey and it was just sheer fun. The sweat was not a sign of getting fit, feeling healthy, allowing you to focus on your work, having a longer life, having better brain power, a stronger heart, better ability to fuck, but rather a sweat of pure and simple fun. Nothing more, nothing less.
I giggled to myself, but it was hard to contain my silliness and enthusiasm as I was also brought back to that incident in Honolulu at Ala Moana mall. I was hungry, very hungry, and I was enjoying exploring the different combinations of flavors that entered my mouth and stayed there for a while as I twirled and swirled them around with my tongue and teeth. It’s like there was a circus of different cultures, climates, textures and tastes that went off in my mouth, and I was after that addictive feeling that comes from exploring the Earth, but this time, it was the exploration of the palate. So I walked around and didn’t see anything interesting. Fast food joints, a few sit down family dinner places that didn’t interest me much. I eventually stumbled across a restaurant whose name was written in Kanji and a menu that looked a little different. I figured I could spend $30 on a unique dinner. I was already starving when I walked in and was looking for a relatively quick bite. What I got was an uncomfortable, comical, and caricature filled evening.
As I waited for the host to seat me, I could hear the Habachi chefs yelling as they tossed and turned their tools around, fires blazing, and the “ohhhhs” and “ahhhs” of the crowd at the appropriate intervals. Since I was alone, I looked around to see if they had a bar: good place to sit when you’re by yourself and just want a quick bite. After about an Epoch, the hostess finally called my name and I was lead behind a curtain, to where all the sounds of excitement were coming from and she seated me….at a table. “Oh shit” I thought “it’s going to take forever to eat and this is going to be a spectacle. I just want some quick and tasty food”. A few minutes later the hostess seated a military couple to my left. The guy was kind of chubby, clean shaven, shaved head and aloha shirt. The wife had long fake blonde hair, a sparkly halter top, lashes that would result in a TKO if anyone that came within a 5 ft radius of her, and a body to kill after she assaulted them with her eyelashes. A short time later another younger couple came in. They looked like a toned down version of the older couple. The younger couple was seated to my right of me. I was stuck in the middle with no food, no water and scorched by the fires. I was a prey caught by its predator.
The food STILL hadn’t come and I was squirming in my seat with annoyance. I had waited to get seated, waited for these couples to sit down, and now I was waiting for the chef. None of this was what I bargained for. I was dressed in a pair of cut off jean shorts and loose tank top that I bought from the Roxy section in Macy’s, nothing like my counterpart couples who were dressed to kill and out for a night out on the town. My eyes darted back and forth looking for an escape hole, but none was to be found. Just families laughing and “oohing” and “awing” to the tune of the fires which ruptured in different corners of the restaurant at different times. I was hungry, uncomfortable, annoyed, under dressed, without a partner (not like the rest of them) and with no escape. I was trapped between the blazing fires and whizzing bullets of the war. There was nothing left to do except sit and wait as I was prisoner, taken prey by these predators.
I made some small talk with the girl beside me. After what seemed like a few more Epochs, the chef emerged. He came out carrying a tray of shrimp, steaks, sauces, spices, spatulas and sake. He wore a white apron and chef’s hat to complete his part in this siege. He was ready to rock and roll. I was ready to get some of the rolling into my stomach. He put on a performance which included putting bowls into his hat with his spatula and taking it out, flipping it, and putting it back down, all the while the food remained untouched in the bowls. He served equal amounts of portions to everyone (although, since I had no partner, he made uneven servings) and dolled them out to each one of us, one at a time, starting with the older military wife on my left. The lefty military wife had a deep Southern drawl and would always say “Thankkkk youuuuu” when she was served by the chef, after the 3rd time she said “Thankkkk youuuuu” I honestly thought that it was a recording, like a singer’s skipped track during a concert. By the 20th time she said it, I rolled my eyes. Was this lady for real? Did she really talk like this all the time? The fakeness of the ‘thankyooooooooouuuus’ were as real as her eyelashes. What was the point of repeating it over and over again except for her to stroke her own ego? We got it lady, we got it.
The couple to my right started quarreling about what they were going to do for the rest of the evening. As I listened to these conversations as a 3rd wheel (in this case really a 5th wheel) I couldn’t help but to think how ridiculous these fights with couples were and I was grateful to not be in a relationship at that point. I must’ve sounded like this to some innocent bystander at some point in the past, and now I was enduring the pain of having to listen to another couple discuss trivial matters. All I could think of besides “thank God that’s not me right now”, was “This couple must have some other underlying issue that’s drawing this out right now”. These trivial matters I later realized were the defining points of being human and not machines. Human relations: beautiful, crazy, romantic, insane, comfortable, uncomfortable and oh so necessary to experiencing spectrum and depth of this life, this body, these eyes, these sounds, these sensations, these emotions. This.
As the night wore on and the food was on its last legs (and so was I!), my eyes continued to dart across the room hopelessly looking for an escape. The food dwindled to nothing…and then….dessert! 1 scoop of cappuccino ice cream and 1 scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream. I had survived the war and was now able to do the victory lap as my tongue engulfed the ice cream. The endorphins I searched for in the beginning had arrived and I was free, emancipated as I was eating the Ice cream. Ice cream with a capitol ‘I’. I then Diasporaed my way O-U-T-T-A there! The next split second I was out! I escaped unscathed and with a full belly. I was unleashed into the jungle.
Being in the karate class whisked me back to the hibachi restaurant and reminded me that life is about exploring and taking risks, even if they make you uncomfortable. My life consists of so many of these silly and awkward moments, but they are the times I remember most vividly and relish in. What started as a giggle snowballed into a Gaggle of non-stop giggles…and never really stopped.