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I moved to Japan in October of 2008. I was assigned a school in the small town of Isesaki, in southern Gunma prefecture. Located at the very northern edge of the Kanto Plain, it took about 2 hours by shinkansen (bullet train) to get to Tokyo. I only lived in Isesaki for six months, but I loved it. Mountains surrounded the town, making for a beautiful view. My students were wonderful and I enjoyed my work. I had two co-workers who were a blessing to me, so helpful and kind and hilariously funny.
In December, I decided to try and find a gaming group in the area. I’d been playing Dungeons & Dragons with friends in Florida for years, and I missed the game. I also thought it might be a good way to meet new people and make friends. I got in contact with a guy in Kumagaya (in Saitama, the prefecture south of Gunma, about an hour-long train ride for me), who was trying to get a new game started. The plan was to start in January.
The weekend before our first gaming session, I went down to visit him and learn the ins and outs of the 4th Edition of D&D, which I was not familiar with. The next weekend, he asked me to meet up with one of the other gamers at the train station and show him how to get to the apartment (we were the only gamers coming in from out of town). I agreed.
My first impression of this gamer – who introduced himself as Geordie – was “geek.” Wholly and completely. No doubt about it. Not that I have anything against geeks (being one myself), but I can’t say that I was impressed. (I would tell you what he says his first impression of me was, but he’d be embarrassed.)
I quickly came to realize that Geordie was A Nice Guy. Always polite, always courteous, clearly well-read. But definitely a geek.
In March, he planned to go to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Tokyo, and he invited us all to go along with him. I was taking a vacation that weekend anyway, so I agreed to meet him in Shinjuku. I was the only one who ended up coming to join him. It was a great parade, and I was glad I’d gone. It was my second time visiting Tokyo, and the city was growing on me. As was this gentlemanly geek I was getting to know.
We gamed throughout most of 2009, until about November, when Geordie was reassigned a couple hours away and our host got a new work schedule that left him unavailable. The gaming ended, but I remained in contact with Geordie through Facebook. We emailed a few times, and he said I should come and visit him in Yamanashi some time. This appealed to me, as I love traveling around Japan and seeing what there is to see. Also, Yamanashi is wine country and home to some famous vineyards, and I didn’t mind the idea of tasting a few.
As it turned out, we didn’t meet up again until March of 2010, when we met in Tokyo for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The next weekend was the first day of spring (a national holiday in Japan), so Geordie had that Monday off. As that was my regular day off, I decided to go over to Yamanashi and finally take him up on his offer. We actually didn’t get to sample much wine, but we did go hiking and had a fine dinner before I had to leave for home. Geordie’s time in Yamanashi was ending, and he thought he might be going someplace in Shikoku next. I told him to let me know where he ended up and I would come by and visit him again.
I meant that sincerely, for two reasons: 1. I hadn’t really traveled much out of the Kanto area, and Shikoku is a smaller island south of the main island. I had been looking for an excuse to travel further south and see something completely new. 2. I had developed a sincere fondness for Geordie. We never ran out of things to talk about, we had many of the same interests, and he really was A Nice Guy. I thought it might be nice if we could develope something beyond the “friend” stage.
As it turned out, he did go to Shikoku (to a city called Kochi), but it wasn’t until June that I got the chance to go down and see him. By that time, it was the rainy season, and it rained nearly all three days I was there. We had one day of no rain during which we went to see the local castle, the statue of a famous samurai, and a rather pathetic aquarium on Katsurahama (the famous local beach). The first night I was there, I lost my college ring, either at the pavilion where we had dinner or somewhere along the way back to my hostel.
But the highlight of the trip was our mutual agreement that dating would be a nice thing to do. Perhaps not an easy thing to do – he had his assignment until the beginning of August, and even when he moved back to his old place in Saitama prefecture, he would still be a two-hour train ride away from me. And in September, he wasn’t sure where he was going or what he was doing.
At the time, it mattered little. And in the end, as we can see, it all worked out. Even though I had to chase him all over Japan. Even in Kochi, I had to make the first move.
I did say he was a gentleman, didn’t I? So much so that he even asked me if he could kiss me. I’m sure you can guess what my answer was!
I love you, Husband. My only regret is that I didn’t try to catch you sooner!