Tokidoki by Angela R. Lindfors

Takoyaki sounds like Mexican food on a stick, and I was surprised to find the little donut-holes sized ball of dough to be full of octopus tentacles and even more surprised to be enthralled with the hot grassy flavor and chewy shellfish except that tentacles have a bad connotation and it makes me nervous standing so close to the pink district, where posters of faceless naked women advertise pleasure for a different kind of tentacle whom I try to avoid but I there wasn't much choice since I didn't have any friends and the ones who were my friends only knew five words in English: shit, damn, fuck, hell, and bitch, which made for interesting conversations especially when the only Japanese I knew was Emperor-Speak which is only used for the most important people in the world which my friends definitely weren't.

Tokidoki sounds like wishy-washy and I always used it as a response when someone asked me if I liked something even if it didn't make any sense because it was fun to say and they probably didn't understand me because of my accent and my Emperor-Speak anyway and most of the time it fit to say that sometimes I liked to go to the onsen and that sometimes I understood the dials on the washing machine and sometimes I liked to eat Ramen but it didn't make sense to say that I was from sometimes and that my name was sometimes but eventually I learned to say “I don't understand” and I looked less like an idiot than usual with my frizzy hair and tomboy clothes but people still stopped and stared particularly when I was naked.

Onsen means bath house and at first I as afraid to go in because of the staring but eventually I got over it except for the mud bath which was for both genders and really didn't look like mud at all because the top half of the bath was water and all the mud was settled at the bottom so I wore my towel into the water but it got soaked and when I stood up to hang it on a ledge everyone could see my C cups which are much bigger than any Japanese woman's breasts but only average by American standards and I felt so awkward that thought I would never go to another onsen again because of the sulfur smell and the burning on the soles of my feet from the hot paved bottom and the embarrassment but my friends convinced me that it wasn't a big deal and that they understood I was a gaijin which even though it's a derogatory term made me feel much better about all of the social barriers I was busting through with my Americanness.

Home sounded like a long ways away across a huge ocean half of a continent but home became my little cubic room at the top of a shaking residence tower on top of the mountain but still quite far underneath the sky and my wooden futon almost became comfortable though I always woke up sore and used a hyakuen seat cushion as a pillow and I startled all the girls on my floor by not wearing make up and walking to the showers in only a towel and sometimes I flashed the security cameras just for fun but nothing ever came of it and now that I am back in America I sometimes miss my view of the bay and the mountains and feeling of living in a Pokémon game but I wouldn't want to stay there forever and I love being able to have conversations that use words other than Masakazu's five swears.


Angela R. Lindfors is a stay-at-home writer and mother. In 2007 she studied abroad in Japan and in 2008 she graduated from St. Edward's University. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas.

 Bay Laurel  /  Volume 1, Issue 1  /  Autumn 2012