Tuesday, June 29, 2010

(Mrs) Adventure #14: When Hilarity and Emergency Strike

Like some bizarre slow motion and soundless film clip, I saw the poof of pepper spray release itself gleefully into the air before I heard the shout.

He was fumbling with the hot pink keychain on the counter, while I was trying to wash something in the sink. I didn’t put two and two together when he asked, “Why the heck won’t this flashlight work? It must be broken.” And, like an overly meticulous watch repairman, he held the device up to his eye and pushed the button.

Poof! Sizzle. Ssssssssssssss.

The sound that seemed somehow out of sync with the action lasted about three seconds.

“OH MY GOD! MY EYES!” And he’s barreling over to the kitchen sink.

“Milk! I need milk! It’ll stop the sting! Ahhhh!!”

I am practically frozen. Do I even HAVE milk? What if it’s moldy? What if it’s curdled milk? I can’t throw curdled milk on my good friend’s face, can I? What if it makes him sick?! ”

Sensing my hesitation, he yells again.

Panic overtakes me as I throw open the refrigerator and spot to three slices of Velveeta cheese. That’s dairy! I can throw cheese at his face! I’ll unwrap them and press cheese slices to his eyes!”


And like Jesus on a tater tot, I could have sworn that milk materialized out of thin air from the bottom shelf.

I rip open the new container and begin splashing it in his face. By now, the pepper spray has made its way around the room like the worst possible aerosol can of Febreeze in history and it’s doing a spicy tango on my lips and up my nose. I gag and begin coughing. I hold one arm over my mouth, and with the other I am throwing handfuls of milk at his face.

“I can’t do this anymore! You have to come outside! Get on the balcony!”

“I can’t see, he shouts back.”

“Well take my arm, my little Helen Keller, and let’s go!” My other two friends are teetering back and forth on the balcony. Wide-eyed, I can tell they are unsure of the appropriate response: explode into fits of laughter or dial 911?

He runs to the balcony and begins splashing the milk on his face-sending cup full after cup full of white liquid onto my neighbor’s patio set below. I stand behind him remembering a memo that went up on our elevator the other week threatening that any resident caught throwing material off their balcony would be promptly arrested. My GOD, does milk count? How are we going to explain this to the judge?

“Well, you see, your Honor, ahem, umm, my buddy here was just playing around with this pepper spray and ended up spraying it directly into his eye and I was gonna use the cheese slices, but it turned out the milk hadn’t yet become a solid….”

“GOOGLE IT!” I yell to another friend. “Google what we’re supposed to do.”

The second hand spins as more milk rushes over the balcony.

“It says get a shot glass, fill it with milk and apply it to the damaged eye.”

“GET A SHOT GLASS!” I yell, and my friend Stephanie flies into the apartment and returns no less than five seconds later with a commemorative shot glass from a friends wedding. If he goes blind, I realize, the last thing he will see is: Laura and Andy: Forever in love!

That’s depressing. Especially since they’re already divorced.

“Ah, well that shot glass was easy to find, eh? Not the milk?” my friend slyly laughs

I shrug. “PUT IT IN THE SHOT GLASS AND HOLD IT TO YOUR EYE!” I yell as though he was quickly going deaf and not blind.

I pause, “How did you know milk would work on pepper spray, you rapist? How does that shot glass feel? That workin’ out for you?”

My neighbors, at this point, are either incredibly tolerant individuals or they’re staying far from the windows and dialing the police. I can’t imagine what this scene looks like for an outsider. I curse myself for not having a camera ready.

Roughly five minutes later, the milk is gone and my friend is finally able to sit down. He resembles something of a Koi fish, but at least, for the time being, he is able to see without the pain of a thousand fiery sunbeams shooting out of his pupils.

And then I do what every normal person would do in that situation: call absolutely every mutual friend in my phone book and tell them in between heaving fits of laughter. Inevitably every response is the same: “Dude, please tell me you got that on film.” Darn.

Later in the night as I reflect what shall here to for be referred to as “the incident,” a little bulb pops up and shines over my head. I have been struggling the past couple of weeks to come up with domestic and fashion tips for a new magazine. When I was asked if I would write an article about all things domestic, I was at first thrilled! I read Cottage Living! I can find some mean deals at my local Target. (Pronounced correctly: Tar-Jae).

I once creatively strung up a fabulous set of silk olive toned curtains by using nothing more than a metal rod I found abandoned in the community basement and seventeen plastic multi purpose cable ties. In fact, I used the same cable ties, (thank you, Dad, contrary to my original belief, your gift has come in handy more than once), when I fixed my broken patio umbrella using eight cable ties, a roll of duct tape and a wooden spatula. It isn’t pretty, but it’s functional in light wind.

Of course, they also asked if I could add some quick and easy recipes in my article, and that is where I really began to panic.

Obviously, if I have so little use for a spatula in the kitchen so that I am perfectly fine wrapping it in duct tape and cable ties and leaving it exposed to the elements, I’m clearly not whipping up any soufflés. Admittedly, I have lived in my condo for over a year now, and the stove has never worked. Not once. My landlord told me that there was a missing cable, but I never bothered to follow up with him on it. Instead, after months of frustration and convinced that I was starving, my mother went to the store and bought me a hot plate. So now, that very hot plate sits on a burner on my stove. I use it to boil water so that I can make a perfect mold of my teeth for one the tooth whitening mouth tray kits.

But now I have my solution. My friend has single handedly (and unwillingly) showed me how to combine domestic and kitschy fashion tips, (especially for the spouses of deployed servicemen) and food. The pepper spray canister is lightweight, easy to use and quite powerful. It comes in hot pink, electric blue, lime green and black. If one was to purchase all four distinctive and trendy colors, one could easily match it to any outfit or purse. Switch it up! Live a little! Set yourself free from the fear of fashion faux pas and dangerous criminals! And, in case the pepper spray particles are accidentally, say, deployed into mid air with the ferocity of three thousand blood thirsty Marines, well all you need to wage war is a few measly cups of milk. Fashion plus safety times food equals success!

I’m not sure if that is what they had in mind, but I know it’s certainly practical advice.

So now I’m set. But now a new problem crops up in the back of my head: what in the world am I going to write for next month’s advice column? Should I, say, set up dangerous items just out of view and invite unsuspecting victims over to determine what vicious injury I could calm with perhaps a teaspoon of vanilla, three paper towels and some Windex? My mind is already racing with gleeful possibility.

For all you concerned readers out there- my friend is fine. He shall certainly live to 'see' another day and we do hope that with time, the emotional scars will heal. Mainly because it's great material and I'll probably need him for inspiration on my next column.

But until then, ladies and gents, I leave you with my humble advice: your own personal safety should always remain your top priority, but never let your fear of attack outweigh your very rational fear of committing an hideous color faux pas. Buy your mace in multi colored canisters and always, always keep your dairy at attention.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

(Mrs) Adventure #13 Reflections on Memorial Day from a Marine Wife.

I am scanning the Internet today between work meetings, aimlessly as I often do during the rare spare moments I have to take a sip of my Sugarless Red Bull and to log a few delicious moments of conversation with a coworker. Switching between Facebook and CNN, my eye catches two different articles. The first, a question posed by a friend that asks if we [the wives of United States Marines] knew what we were getting into when we married. The second, a breaking news article that announces ten troops, seven American, were killed yesterday outside of Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

To the first, I lean my head quizzically to the side and start to ponder; to the second, I know instinctively that the majority of those seven are Marines. I await an announcement of the names; I know once the DOD makes them available, (available meaning the families have been notified), the Support our Marines group will ask for a moment of silence for the fallen warriors.

My brain jumps back and forth between the two. Soon, their mysterious identity will no longer be a pixilated jumble of words on a computer screen. To some of us, they will become smiling faces, husbands holding their wives, their mothers and their daughters.

I find myself falling deep inside, wishing everyone would stop for a moment and pay tribute, but as I scan the comments beneath the CNN article I see that most pay homage to a political diatribe of this party or that. I wonder if we (as a culture) have become so desensitized and so tired that we even care?

Seven young men gave the ultimate sacrifice yesterday; there is a time and a place for political commentary and isn’t beneath their name.

Did we know what we were getting into when we married our Marines?

That question cannot be easily answered.

I write a blog that tries to take a jocular angle on the life of being married to a United States Marine. Everyone chooses a different angle to cope with life; I choose humor while others may be serious or analytical, thoughtful, sullen, optimistic, intense, dreamy, ambitious, removed, independent, co-dependant, informative or a variation of the above.

I write stories- that’s what I do. My personal reflections are often hidden beneath a self-deprecating joke or a constructed caricature of my personality. I once read that true authors open their veins and bleed ink onto pages; I attempt this only with a safe hint of fiction. In truth, I find blogs and personal opinion and the suggestion that people read the minutia of any given individual’s day to serve only exceptionally narcissistic purposes. I have a desire to share but only in carefully measured amounts, a spoonful of sugar here and a drop of lemon juice over there. In a world of web voyeurs, I try to keep virtual Peeping Toms at bay.

But today, something clicks in me. Today does not seem a day to hide behind carefully constructed phrases. I am the wife of a United States Marine.

Scratch that: I am the PROUD wife of a United States Marine.

Seven of his brothers died today. Did he know them personally? Most likely not, but they are still his brothers. When I see photographs of their beaming faces and messages posted days before that read: “Come home soon!” I feel an icy numbness spread over my body.

This can’t be real, I think. Always and every time the same phrase repeats in my head: this can’t be real.

Did we know what we were getting in to when we married our Marines?

Did we? Does anyone? Ever?

Must this question necessitate a negative answer?

You see, I didn’t marry ‘just a Marine,’ I married my best friend. My best friend is not a pixilated jumble of words on a computer screen; my best friend is so much more. My Marine is bundle of personality; he is absolutely brilliant, and I don’t state this as an observation, I state it as fact. I married one of the best people to ever inhabit this great country of ours, one who walks and talks with the character of a true gentleman and scholar.

I spent Memorial Day with my husband in a foreign land. While America honored its veterans of wars past and our current Marines, Airmen, Soldiers and Sailors, I had the pleasure of lazing away the day with my very own special superhero. In my head, I started to think of all the questions and concerns that have swirled about me the past few months, some of my own invention and those that have been casually tossed (or forcefully thrown) at me by others.

I listen to the political debates, people raging on both sides of the fence: ‘Send our soldiers home!’ they cry. ‘Send more soldiers in!’ others protest. I’ve heard that the military trains nothing but killers; I’ve heard that they are warriors of freedom. I’ve even been called a hypocrite by an individual who claimed to support the troops by blasting communist propaganda while wearing the Marine Dress Blues in an entertainment act.

Some of us [spouses] remain silent. Others get in heated arguments with the other side. And some of us choose to throw a milky joke into the expanse to diffuse a palate of hot peppered air.

But on this Memorial Day and the days following, I chose instead to think of what I “got myself into when I married my Marine.”

When I married my Marine, I came to understand the true definition of what it means to truly love and support another. Five, ten years from now, if my husband is retired, active, a teacher, a lawyer, a janitor or the President of the United States, I will love him with a tenacious ferocity. The fact that he is a Marine has very little to do with the amount to which I love him or even the very reason why I fell in love. In fact, I would be remiss if I did not admit that I’ve had one too many wailing sessions where I shed enough tears to fill up a small aquarium; I often have trouble rectifying in my head why a man of his exceptional intelligence, a man who could easily be studying for his PhD or cutting deals on Wall Street would place himself in such a dangerous position. And then I quickly realize that I sound like those who do not understand; it has nothing to do with intelligence and everything to do with character. If he has an ample supply of brains, his character can only exceed this gift. I am not so perfect.

I’m certain he still knows something I don’t, and even though I may not always agree with where his profession of choice takes him, the fact that he is an individual of such high caliber and morals will always garner my support.

When I married my Marine, I learned to never take anything for granted: not a day, not a solitary moment, a squeezed hand, a kiss or a supportive hug. My friendships have, (at least in my mind) become deeper. The people in my life mean more to me now than a simple group of ‘friends’ to share superficial stories and a beer after work. I view relationships in a different light, and though I’ve always thought that I’ve been one to scratch much deeper than surface with people, now I’m giving them all figurative root canals. I’m no longer satisfied with the status quo, a passing shrug or a selfish, “well, I’ll check on them later.” Now, nothing should or will be taken for granted. I want them all to know how much they mean, how important they are in this world.

Occasionally, I have but two three minutes to chat with my husband through email, Skype chat or text. I will tell you that those three minutes are the most meaningful moments of my day. I will wake up early just to see him type words before he falls asleep, I will stay up late in the hopes that I can catch him online; I would stay awake for four days straight if it meant I could catch his smile on some video screen appearing live five thousand miles away. I would never be so bold as to suggest that my husband and I don’t have our disagreements, but I will tell you that each and every one ends after roughly five minutes with an, “I’m sorry if I hurt you. I love you.” No argument between loved ones should ever be so important that two parties can’t stop, reflect, and remember that in the long run the basis of the argument or even the argument itself will be forgotten, but hurtful words will take years (if ever) to erase.

When I married my Marine, I learned the value of a day. Remember that old cliché, ‘don’t sweat the small stuff?” Well, (sad to say, or at least sad to admit), it’s true. In the grand scheme of things, a broken nail, an over crowded/over booked schedule, a rude email or a coffee stain on a blouse have become more comical than anything else. Compared to the sacrifices made daily by our men and women in the military, these occurrences are nothing but trivial happenstance to fill a day. What will you remember at the end of a long year? Certainly not a spilled wine glass at dinner or smeared lipstick on a random Tuesday; no, you’ll remember relationships formed and…

Laughter. There is nothing more delicious than laughter. And there is nothing more beautiful than the curve of a smile deflecting tears as an ornate fountain may direct diamond clear water. Yes, when I married my Marine I learned that laughter trumps difficult trials, or at least provides a strong anesthetic against pain.

When I married my Marine, I learned the value of this country and what America and being an American means. As a twenty seven year old woman, I am sad to admit that before I married my Marine, the fourth of July meant blissful freedom, (from school or work) icy blue liquid running off a chunk on a wooden stick dripping down my lips and staining my chin and fingers an unnatural shade of anti-freeze. The fourth of July meant lake shore breezes carrying musical notes like hovering dandelion wisps from some nearby pier. Memorial Day: a day free of work or school, usually supplemented by booze, burgers and brats. Not once on these days did I ever think about the Halls of Montezuma or the shores of Tripoli. If asked, I may have responded that they sounded like nice places to visit on a Princess cruise ship vacation.

Today, I sit in awe of this country-its accomplishments past, present and hopefully future. I understand the “American Dream” and I see through photographs the unspoiled and imaginative hope in the eyes of those that wish to experience a slice, just a slice of that American apple pie that I have languorously consumed. I revel in our differences as an American people, I cherish our ability to speak freely and without fear and most importantly I am proud that we are able to help those less fortunate-within our own country and in others.

I have often watched wide-eyed throughout life as children scream at their parents, as teenagers storm up to rooms shouting, “I hate YOU!” to their desperate mothers and fathers. I have seen the pain in parent’s eyes as ungrateful offspring turn their backs on the family that has emotionally mortgaged everything simply to provide a secure future.

I have never grasped this type of blatant disrespect, and now, more than ever, I do not understand the type of blatant disrespect I am witness to as America’s “offspring” turn their backs on the country that gave them the right to narrow their eyes, use their voice, and storm up the stairs spewing, “I HATE YOU!”

I wonder why more people don’t pause in the midst of arguments, of the political grievances and demands from both sides to say, “I know we disagree right now, America, but I still love you. I’m sorry if I hurt you.”

The strength of America is found in its differences: different political viewpoints, different heritages and different religions. This is America’s superglue, the adhesive that sticks to magnets, to wood, to fabric and to steel and merely says: let’s build with our differences; help me grow with your differences.

I learned that we must never forget to tip our figurative hats to those who fight to protect those differences, for they are the ones that ultimately matter most. They are the ones who keep that glue in place: even if it is occasionally hazy and difficult to see how.

They are the ones who won’t ask in the middle of the argument, in the heat of the moment, in the crevice of a difference to pause, reflect and say, “I love you. I love you, America.”

But I am one who will.

This is what I “got myself into when I married my Marine.”

And for those that gave the ultimate sacrifice in keeping us safe day and night, for those seven beaming faces I will never forget, I say, “I thank you. I am so grateful for you. May your laughter echo in valleys forever and may your bravery never be forgotten. We love you.”

Monday, June 7, 2010

(Mrs) Adventure #12: Not So Lost in Translation. Tokyo/Kyoto

I am riding up the side of a mountain in Kyoto, Japan; the metal basket at the front of my bike rattling its contents each time the slender tire hits a gravel bump. Twenty feet ahead, my husband stands on his pedals, balances himself and turns around to grin wildly at me. I narrow my eyes at him and not so silently curse as a Toyota whizzes closely past me on its journey down the mountain.

“I did not sign up for this,” I grumble under my breath and continue on with a string of complaints as I concentrate on moving my jelly like legs in rotating circles. For a moment I pretend I’m in a spinning class, until I hear a Japanese motorist shout something at me from a passing car that sounds mysteriously like, “Sayonara Americcaaaan”. In my head, I entertain fantasies of tossing the fragile three-speed bicycle into the roadway and marching down the mountain until I hit the first tempanaki resturant that serves alcohol or paint thinner. And then I remember that moment where my husband and I relaxed on our couch in San Diego, laughing together and analyzing recruits in a documentary about young Marines at Parris Island. In the program, one girl cries into the camera and complains about the tough life at Boot Camp. I remember leaning over to my husband as I sipped a glass of Merlot and said, “Rubbish, that doesn’t look so bad. Even I could do that. ”


Pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal and then I hear my husband shout, “There it is!”

Thank you, Jesus.

I catch up to him and as I am about to get off my bicycle, I think about saying something like, “Wow! That was a wonderful jaunt! What a workout! Thanks for taking me up that mountain! And now look where we are: an ancient shrine! Gorgeous!!”

Instead, it comes out as, “That’s it. This is the last damn Shrine I care to see. They all look the same. If I need to see more, than I’ll go to Epcot Center, because that’s all I’m seeing. Disneyworld. It looks like Disney World. I’m done. I am dooooo-ne. If you want to see more of these stupid shrines, then you can do it on your own, mister. I’m heading back to the hotel and I’m going to have champagne on the rooftop.” And then I start to tear up.

Oops. In my defense, mountains are best not tackled with excessive jet leg or without a cushy ski lift.

He simply laughs and wraps me in a giant hug.

We are perfect traveling companions, My Marine and me.


Tokyo does not feel like a foreign city. Its lush gardens give way to wide streets the same slick and glossy color of the rivers that line them. I imagine neon and over crowded walkways, instead I find respectful rows of people marching back and forth on their afternoon rush hour. In fact, it feels almost like Chicago. Tokyo’s residents are not all together a friendly bunch, but they are incredibly well dressed. I joke to my husband that George Zimmer of the Men’s Warehouse would retire a gazillionaire here. I don’t see one man or woman that is not outfitted in a very smart looking suit. They do seem a bit like automatons marching to their next point; most don’t stop in the middle of sidewalks to share a quick conversation like their American counterparts. It is impossible for my husband and I not to stand out and look like tourists. This is only aided by Matt’s Michelin Green Guide; he pulls it out at every stop and for the first time I am supremely jealous of a book.

The subways are an entirely new adventure. For starters, they are incredibly clean and organized. I scan the cars for signs of the homeless, but see none. There is no trash lying in the terminals and aside from the whine of an approaching subway car, the terminals are eerily silent although filled with thousands of bodies. Matt and I are brash and loud, or at least it feels this way. We giggle back and forth at advertisements in the cars for “Black Punch” a gin based drink, or an ad that features a large weightlifter enjoying a cigarette. Our cheeks redden. We are outsiders.

We spend our days snapping pictures, “Japanese tourists in Japan!” we joke. My husband and I tour the Imperial Gardens; we remove our shoes when we enter Shrines and pad through the wooden floors that housed the Shogun, past rooms where he took meetings with Feudal Lords and Ladies in Attendance. As I walk, I imagine ancient feet traveling on the same wooden floors, hundreds of years before me.

“Maybe we are re-incarnated,” I suggest to my husband. “Perhaps we have been here before.”

He smiles at me. But I don’t really believe what I am saying. Unlike the hallways of ancient palaces of Europe, or the wooden edifices that still stand home to our forefathers, I don’t feel that I have been here before. It feels as it should, foreign. I am nothing more than a modern visitor; I don’t feel ghosts tingle my skin, just patches of warmth where sunlight cuts through paper walls.

Together, we stumble upon a Degas exhibit at one Tokyo art museum, and we wander through the galleries of another in Ueno Park. We zip to crowded markets that cater homemade sweets to throngs of thousands of Japanese school children, all dressed in uniforms that make them appear to be miniature sailors or flight attendants. We watch elders relax on park benches and feed pigeons tiny pieces of bread. My husband and I witness Japanese businessmen and women stop by local shrines during their lunch hour. They approach giant iron tubs of incense and fan the smoke in their direction. Sometimes I watch them write tiny notes and stick them in the crevices of the religious foundation. By night, we dine on mostly American and French faire, and before bed we sip cocktails on the fortieth floor of our hotel.

Our words may be lost in translation, but when he places his hand in mine and leads me along cobblestone paths in a leafy park, I feel only found in this green, limbo-like world.


Three days into our trip, we board the Shinkan-sen, also known as ‘The Bullet Train’ en route to Kyoto. We weave on tracks that cut through the hazy landscape, fields flooded with rainwater, pagodas lining mountains, the ocean blending into the sky in the distance. The world outside the window passes in a blur; when I try to train my eyes to focus on one element beyond the transparent plastic, it passes too soon and I grow dizzy. I listen to a Japanese couple giggle secrets two rows ahead, I train my eyes on the outline, the perfect outline, of my husband’s face.

When the train pulls into the station, and we exit as ants from a muddy underground tunnel, I am overwhelmed. We study a map, we navigate the trains and subways, and we board the car again until we realize we’ve gone the wrong way.

I break down in an abandoned subway tunnel, the first I’ve seen since entering Japan. Something about its stillness seems foreboding and dangerous.

My husband stares first at me thoughtfully, and then grabs me in a large bear hug. In my ear he sweetly whispers, “Domestic violence is not a joking matter.”

I start to laugh, that sniffling laugh as two teenagers bound down the stairs and pause momentarily to scrutinize us. Kyoto receives far less ‘Western’ traffic than its sister city, Tokyo. The first thing we notice, ironically though, is that Kyoto’s inhabitants feel much more Western than their Tokyo cousins.

Our hotel, The Screen, rises out of a corner of the Imperial Garden, its modern grey façade a stark contrast to the ancient park. Once inside, we are led into a swanky looking dining room, where we are handed chocolates and mango soda pop in a champagne glass. Now this is my kind of hotel! With only thirteen rooms, each decorated by a different Japanese designer, The Screen Hotel rivals any American boutique hotel I’ve ever seen. Our room is modern, yet comfortable, and large by Japanese standards. We have a balcony, a rock garden, a Bose sound system, a big screen television, a large King sized bed, a Jacuzzi, and a heated toilet that speaks.

The staff takes customer service and hospitality to a new level- organizing bikes for us, pouring drinks, showing us to their rooftop. We meet a couple on vacation from Shanghai, though they are both French Canadians. Our server attended North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. He cannot believe he’s met someone from Chicago, as he has spent the majority of his life living with his parents in Kyoto. We find a French bistro that we will laze away hours over the next couple of days.

And yes, we visit every single shrine in Kyoto. On bike. We ride up and down sidewalks, play chicken with cars and pedestrians.

On Sunday, we bike downtown Kyoto to find the one Catholic Church that offers an English speaking mass. Unfortunately, or fortunately for us, the priest speaks little English, as evidenced by him asking the entire congregation to give thanks for Jesus Christ and ‘his erection.’ As soon as I hear him utter the phrase, my entire body stiffens. I pray to God that my husband hasn’t heard him say this, but when I hear what sounds remarkably like the final cries of a Brazilian guinea pig and see my husband’s body start to shake, I know I’m going to lose it. I see him look at me, he sees my shoulders start to shake as I try to hold in the laughter, and the audible hysterical sobs pierce through the air. He bends over and covers his eyes with his hands. Not laughing out loud has now become painful, and I anxiously wonder if I am going to be able to contain myself. I briefly wonder if I could pass it off as some sort of religious conversion, but stop when I think that any fake speaking in tongues I could pull off would inevitably sound like some sort of butchered Asian language.

“Don’t look at me. Please don’t look at me,” I laugh as my husband, still bent over with tears in his eyes, grabs my hand. Finally, we both calm down enough to take deep breaths, until the priest opens his mouth again and we start all over.

I can’t think of one time, perhaps our wedding aside, where my husband and I have been able to attend Church without laughing hysterically. In situations where we are supposed to be solemn, the two of us are not able to successfully pull this off when together. We’re the two bad kids in the back of class.

True, half the time I want to throw the bike into the street, into a laughing Japanese tourist, into his head… I am admittedly not the athletic type that I once claimed to be, I am more the casual jaunt around the city type of girl. But, it is when I want to throw that bike in the middle of the road while pedaling my little want to be champagne-soaked heart out that I fall desperately in love with my husband… for the three hundred and fiftieth time.


We end up back in Tokyo for the last leg of our trip, now more knowledgeable about the city and its residents. We stop in a bar on our way home from dinner that turns out to be an American ex-pat bar. By the time we leave, my husband and I have met an absolutely charming group of new friends; we are all Scarlett’s and Bills in our own way. Some are there to visit relatives; others are touring with the Broadway cast of DreamGirls. For a moment, I never want to leave.

‘Let’s never come back,' I whisper to no one, ‘because it will never be as much fun.’

I am repeating lines, of course, but they hang and drift in the smoky air. My husband glances at me, winks and grins. He doesn’t have to know what I’m saying to understand. There are moments shared when holding hands, leaning in to one another and whispered as two close confidants, and there are moments shared from across the room. The particles are still the same. Energized.

The following day we tour Harajuku for a sight of the Harajuku girls; we wander among shops with neon signs advertising the latest fashions. Everyone is dressed as they’ve walked out of a catalogue; next to us European models prance down the street, setting themselves apart from the rather homogenous crowd.

“They must love the attention,” my husband reflects.

And I think back to a time when I too would have loved that attention; then as I lean into him I think I need only the attention of a single audience member. And all rosy spotlights are on us.

We dine at the Park Hyatt made famous by Sofia Coppola’s master film. On my way back from the bar, I nearly run into a very tall brunette man. I glance up quickly to see that it is John Mayer. He steps aside and I brush past him. He is too young to be seeking his Scarlett, though I am sure he is regardless. In the distance, I see my husband and I am walking towards him. John Mayer is just another body in this sea of wealthy patrons, and even his bright white t-shirt can not outshine the lights of Tokyo that reflect on Matt.

We grab a drink at the bar, we briefly plan a prison escape, and I lean my head on the granite. The cocktail lights angle up in my eyesight and reveal an enormous painting of Wall Street. The lounge singer starts to sing, “I’m in a New York state of mind…”

The following day at Narita, I am still in a daze. I grip my husband tightly and tell myself that the deployment is half over. He waits until I go through security and as I board the escalator down to the International Terminal, I catch sight of him leaning against the glass. He blows me a kiss and I can feel his hand in mine.

As the escalator carries me down and his image starts to fade into the crowds I realize I know but one truth about love. Wherever I am and wherever he is, we will never again be lost.