I had been examining you for several minutes.
You’re different than the other students, even though you were wearing the same uniform. I sensed serenity, peace, quietness, and an unexplainable attraction (of course) maybe subjectively just to me. You were listening to music on your Beatbox headphones, I wondered what could it be? Was it Hanaregumi – the musician I just knew from the music playlist provided in my previous flight? I loved it even though I had no idea what the lyrics meant.
I was on my way back to Odawara after visiting Gotemba. I was by myself, my family chose to visit Lake Kawaguchi-ko which I wasn’t interested in. I tried to focus on my own itenerary but you kept distracting me, well… it wasn’t your fault anyway. But then suddenly I realized, “has the train passed the station?”
I stood up from my seat, fell my paperback of Fauchon (a bakery I bought for my Lunch from Gotemba) and my bag. I screamed a little and got my stuffs back to my seat in a better position. I walked to the door to see where the train was right now, but then I realized everything was written in Japanese. I didn’t panic because I knew Japan’s tranportation was very advanced I just needed to take another train if I had missed the station. My only worry was I had a very tight schedule about what I wanted to visit in Odawara and it’s half past day already!
Okay, so I sat back to my seat and decided to ask a female high schooler sitting next to me (actually she sat on the most right side of the seat and I was on the most left so I dragged myself to sit next to her first) about it. She was wearing earphones, I tried calling her several times, “Sumimasen, sumimasen…” But she seemed can’t hear me. And with hesitation whether it’s polite or not, I lightly poked her with my index finger. She was surprised a little but took off her earphones, I said again, “Sumimasen…” She nooded with welcomeness and a smile, something that you would 99% get from asking a Japanese local about your confusion.
I tried to ask her with a very simple English, “Sumimasen, I want to stop at Odawara station.”
She nodded but seemed not fully understand what I was trying to ask.
“Have we passed it?” Okay, this might not be a simple English for her.
She looked confused. I tried to rephrase my question, “How many more stations?”
She got even more confused. I also had lost idea about how to ask her in another way but showing a Google Translation to her. She nodded with understanding and tried to tell me about it but having a hard time, she scratched her head, I felt guilty to make her put so much effort to help me. Then I gave my phone to her and gestured for her to write it down for me, she nodded again, and upon receiving my phone she again got another confusion. I realized a second later, I didn’t install Japanese characters in my phone.
At the same time, a little bump happened and once again my belogings fell to the floor. I made another scream and sigh because of that. I decided to told her before I picked my stuffs back, “It’s okay, don’t worry. Thank you. Arigato.” And decided to find another way to see whether I had missed the station or not.
“Go down at Kozu Station.” Just at the moment I wanted to turn back to my seat, you were already standing there with my stuffs on your hand. Your headphone hanged on your neck like a necklace. You put back my stuffs to the seat. I got speechless for a moment before I can respond. “Sumimasen?” The only Japanese word I am confidently can speak.
“You need to transit at Kozu Station to go to Odawara station.” You explained more. And I just remembered that I happened to be at Kozu Station too before getting to Gotemba Station.
I smiled and gave my gratitude, “Ahhh… thank you. Arigato.” You nodded and smiled back to me but kept standing there. I didn’t understand what you’re doing when you looked at me and said, “Now.”
“Kozu Station is now.” Your English is quite good compared to even other older Japanese. So I don’t mind the grammar. I mean, mine is not perfect as well!
And one side of the door opened and I realized that we have arrived at the Kozu Station. I didn’t know why, but I hurried myself, I picked up my stuff and thanked you again before rushing out from the train even though it gave enough time even if I got off by slow walking. Maybe it’s not the train but… the nervousness of speaking with you!
After getting on my feet on the Kozu station, I tried to forget you and focused myself to find where I should wait for the train to Odawara. I found it without any problems. The queue is not crowded and I got excited that it went well… but then I realized I didn’t have my phone with me. I checked here and there, it’s not in my bag nor my pockets. I must have left it on the seat! Now, I panic! How was I supposed to contact my family now?
“Excuse me, you left your phone.” I heard a familiar voice from my back.
It was you with a giving hand with my phone on it. I felt so relieved I almost cried. I thanked you with repetition until I guessed you found it annoying. And you cut my thanking, “Odawara train is now.” I looked back again and the train’s door was opened, people already got inside. You continued your word, “Let’s go.”
I reacted automatically with, “Okay.” and moved to the train. Feeling relieved and confounded by the things just happened. It took me around 3 minutes before asking, “Are you going to Odawara too?” You stood next to me, all the seats were already taken.
You nodded slowly. Standing right beside you made me realize that we’re on the same height, well… you’re taller just a little even though I was older around 2 or 3 years, I guessed.
“You lived in Odawara?” I asked
“Oh… okay, are you visiting a friend?”
“No, no friends in Odawara.”
“So, why are you going to Odawara?”
You took some seconds before answering, “Help you?”
I became speechless once more. I already heard about Japanese friendliness in helping tourists, but seriously? I felt so burdened and guilty, you probably needed to do something else.
“Oh my, no… no… it’s okay. I can go by myself. Thank you but you don’t need too-” I tried to explain, even though I was not sure if you’d understand.
“You need.” You showed a smirk, a really lovely smirk. “You are clumsy.”
“What?” I pointed at myself, “Me? Clumsy? No. No. No. No. I am fine by myself.” My pride hurt a bit, I always thought that I was quite independent especially in travelling. You smirked even more seeing my response, now with a chuckle on it, you seemed amused.
“It’s okay, I want to visit Odawara too.” You stopped my blabbering of rejection of your assistance with a smile so warm and sweet. And your next words made me had an unexplainable feeling on my tummy and chest, “You don’t want to be with me?”
You must have used the wrong sentence. You must have.
I took a deep breath to calm myself down. I needed to keep my cool. I nodded, “I want.”
And the both of us showed “okay” smiles together. And it felt like we’d been old classmates. Especially because your English is pretty good, communication was pretty smooth. I asked about the music you’re hearing, you let me hear it a moment before I decided that I didn’t like it. It’s Japanese Rock genre which was not my cup of tone. You asked me where I came from, and I blurted out with uncensored mockery about it compared to Japan which was like a pool of fresh water vs. whatever the opposite was. But you somehow seemed interested in it. Especially when I said, “It felt like you’re living in a primitive era. No rules. Nothing is truly organized. It’s a messy place and people can be messy and no one can really blame you.”
Then, we arrived at Odawara. I told you the only place I wanted to visit was the Miyukinohama beach in Odawara, I was so curious about the beach in Japan which I haven’t visited. But then you put more into our schedule. We walked into a street decorated with many pink balloons in shape of the sakura flower on our way to the beach. We took time visiting the Odawara Castle for a moment. We had snacks on some food stalls. We bought a 300 Yen transparent plastic umbrella because it was so cheap I couldn’t help it. I didn’t really remember the other attractions we visited, but the Miyukinohama beach. It took us almost 20 minutes by foot. It’s already dusk, we followed the direction from Google Map. It took us to a really quiet place before we arrived.
The Miyukinohama beach is on the edge of the island (of course), it was located after a bridge or some railways that looked like a wall on as its gate. Upon arriving we’re really surprised by the view of it. It has nothing but the sand, the wave, the already darkened sky and the both of us. No one else was there.
I was not expecting this, I thought it would be amazing. I feel ashamed that I had wasted your time to get to this place. It was really stupid.
I looked at you and with a ready apologize, but before I could utter it. You screamed loudly to Leo’s words in Titanic, “I am the king of the world!” with a brave smile. You looked so happy and free. It showed me your side of wildness and youth. I wondered what’s more of you, but the day was ending and also our togetherness. I was losing time.
“What you call ‘this’ in your language?” You asked, circling both of your hands to around us.
“Empty is pang-tai?”
“Ah, no… pantai is beach. Empty is kosong. Hampa.”
“Yes, ham-e-pa.” I loved your Japanese accent so much.
And we spent some time at the Ham-e-pa Beach. Looking at the lonely waves. It was literally just the both of us. But I didn’t feel lonely at all. I looked at my phone for a moment and replied to my family’s message telling them I was doing fine in Odawara. Actually, I was doing more than fine! I wondered if you felt the same, but there’re questions we’re not supposed to ask. Because some answers may be considered as promises. And promises could be a threat.
It was a long and poignant silence before the words slipped out from my mouth, “Let’s go.”
“Where?” You asked, still enjoying the beach. It’s almost 9 and my hotel is in Tokyo. It’d be almost 12 if I didn’t get back now.
I couldn’t reply that, because the answer meant our separation.
“Thank you.” You suddenly said that. “How do you say it in your language?”
“Te-ri-ma ka-si?” You repeated after me.
“Hai!” I used the “yes” in Japanese.
You smiled and looked at me deeply before you repeated once more, “Te-ri-ma ka-si!”
“Sama-sama” I replied, even though I didn’t understand. I should be the one who thanked you. Your help. Your time. You.
“Sama-sama.” You repeated that word with the correct pronounciation.
Another silence. Probably around 10 seconds before you broke it with, “Let’s go.”
Now I’m the one who’s asking, “Where?”
You stopped to think for awhile before giving out the answer, “Odawara Station?”
And we left the Ham-e-pa Beach, walking another 20 minutes to the station. I opened the umbrella we bought on the road even though it wasn’t raining for fun. The wind blew so hard I couldn’t hold the umbrella properly so I decided to close it back. But then you opened it back for me and showed me the right way to hold the umbrella when the wind was blowing hard.
Strangely, 20 minutes ended so fast. We arrived at the station quicker than I wished it to be. And the train also arrived faster than I expected it to be. They all meant the same. Goodbye.
But I’m against it! This won’t be a goodbye, this would be “see you again”. I braved myself, “Hey, let’s visit Hakone next year. I will be back to Japan. Let’s visit Hakone. Together.”
I could hear the train announcement calling from every angle. You didn’t answer me right away. I could see hesitation. I was right, you shook your head and said, “No.”
I became speechless. This was indeed a goodbye.
“I want to visit the primitive era. Not Hakone. Can I?” You asked.
I deleted goodbye from my head. I smiled so wide, I almost hugged you. “Of course. Yes. To the primitive era. When?”
“Next year? Today?” You meant around these dates.
“Sure. Yes. I will show you around.” The train passed. I felt glad. I have more moment before another train arrived.
But another train arrived in an instant.
“See you again.” I said, moving inside the train. “Sampai jumpa.”
“Sen-pai jum-e-pa?” You repeated with hesitation.
I nodded and waved my hand to you. You waved back. The train’s door closed. But I knew it’s not a goodbye. I would meet you again next year in my country. But how? When? I didn’t know.
Wait! I didn’t you know your name, your contact number, I didn’t know anything. I panicked and got off at the next station and took another train back to Odawara station. But I couldn’t find you anywhere. I looked around in despair but there’s no clue about you. You must had been gone, I gave up and took the train to Tokyo with regrets. I should have asked more about your basic personal details in the beginning. Your name. Your phone number. Anything.
I checked on my phone to see the time. It’s almost 11 pm. I messaged my family that I’d be late before I put my phone back into my pocket. And then, it’s when I realized there’s a small paper inside of it. I didn’t remember I had any paper with me. It was a plain white paper with writings in it.
“Ohayo clumsy, why you don’t ask about my name and phone number? You should send me a message saying sorry. Here’s my number and email.”
And on the back of the paper was what I needed the most to connect with you! And a bonus of big big words of “SEE YOU AGAIN!” highlighted on it.
*Inspired by true story