“With a strange timing, my cell phone buzzed on vibrate mode. It was from K. What an idiot. Right when I only have an interest in the future, K’s in the past, trying to drag me down with him. I think adults put the past on too precious a pedestal. If you don’t periodically throw it away, garbage collects around you and poisons you. K seemed to be praying to God that I would once again whimsically choose to appear before him naked.
I’d have to block his number sooner rather than later.”
–”Dare mo Shinanai Renai Shosetsu (Love Stories Where Nobody Dies)” by Fujishiro Meisa
A short excerpt that caught my fancy from a book I’ve been nursing the past month. I said I wanted to read something from a lady’s point of view, but maybe that was a mistake (or at least this author was). I thought the title was silly! like a play on all those melodramatic k-dramas. But this book was just a collection of like ten short stories where every single female protagonist, while they survive the story, seemed to die inside in the process. Each of them seemed a little more desperate than the last, trying to grasp on to the dregs of a relationship with a man that didn’t seem to care for them, throwing away their dreams and desires and their selves in the process. Or maybe they didn’t know themselves to begin with. Maybe that was the point, to be depressing about what women have to choose here.
But while all the stories were from the perspective of a different woman, I had no idea what any of them were supposed to be really thinking. No one seemed to reflect anything deeper than how empty they felt. And I know each story was only around 20 pages (made for easy reading), but I didn’t really connect to anyone. Or if I did, the girl would throw it away by the end of the story. Let me give you an example of some of the weird stuff in here:
1. A woman who lives in the remote wilderness with her husband, and loves him when he is all nature boy but starts to hate when he gets interested in other things, like art. So then she convinces to have a baby with her, and they move back to the city, so he’ll forget about all those dreams and stuff.
2. A woman who has been with her boyfriend for 7 years, and neither of them has any passion anymore from each other, but they can’t break up because they own a business together. She sleeps once with his best friend, and then goes back to her boyfriend that night, resigned to spending the rest of her life with this lump on the couch.
3. A woman who doesn’t seem to feel anything at all, for anyone, and then decides she’s just going to fall in love with the man eating lunch in the restaurant next to her.
4. A woman on vacation in the middle east with her boyfriend, who just all of a sudden disappears from their hotel. She spends the next two weeks waiting for him to arrive in the next town, not exploring or doing much on her own. When he arrives, she never questions what happened.
5. A woman who decides to go explore one of those emergency doors in underwater road tunnels, and discovers a large mansion-like abode. The owner proposes that she stay forever and never leave, which she does, wondering idly what she’ll do when he dies.
6. A woman who meets a foreign man she can barely communicate with, and is delighted when he proposes to her out of nowhere.
7. And last but not least, a woman who works at a horse ranch whose boyfriend broke up with her because she put horses above him. One of her horses gets out that night, and as she’s searching for it, she remembers the night her and her boyfriend first slept with each other. She finds the horse, then quits the ranch and her deep love of horses, so that she can return to her boyfriend.
I hated that story the most, because it was so good, and I had really connected with her. She had a real passion for horses, and once she figures out one of her horses has gone missing, she fears she’ll lose her job and all her dreams. She searches by the nearby beach and then sits down in the dunes and remembers her boyfriend. Her and her boyfriend’s first time was by the ocean, and they ran into the waves together after it ended and she just sat there, reminiscing about it, and sobbing. It felt so real. And then once she finds her horse, she brings it back, quits, and then goes back to the boyfriend. WHAT? And she even cuts us all off, saying, “All of my friends say they liked me better when I was working with horses, but they don’t know anything about me. I’m going to live with my human boyfriend, and love him forever. I am never again going to spend a night thinking of a man, crying, and searching for a horse.”
Ugh, and the thing is, I can’t even front. I’d like to think I wouldn’t give up my dreams for a man, but sometimes I’m just so scared that if I chase my dreams, I’m going spend my nights thinking of men, and crying. But it just sucks seeing it from a third person perspective. It feels so depressing. I guess maybe that’s the point (unless I’m way off and Japanese women would think of these stories as happy).
…And I just looked up the author, and it was a man. Meisa is a man’s name?!?! I feel really dumb now, but now I kind of get why I wasn’t connecting with these ladies. Shit. Are there no female writers in Japan? I think I have to read things other than love stories for a while; this is just getting depressing.
“I had a silly dream, before,” I said, smiling. “That you and I would find Japanese husbands and get married and be able to stay in Iwate together with each other. But that’s just a dumb dream.”
X smiled too. “Yeah, but thinking about my experiences with Japanese guys, I don’t think that was ever going to happen. I mean, I had such a crush on that guy and yet he moves away and I never got any contact again from him. The same thing pretty much happened with you and Junya. If that’s the way that Japanese act … it’s not enough for me.”
I nodded sadly, pushing a chopstick at my food. “Yeah. Yeah, I know. It’s not enough for me either. I’m scared that that might be all there is.” We both sat for a second, looking at our unfinished lunches. How many lunches did we have left with each other before she left for home? It really wasn’t that many, was it? Who could I talk to about this stuff after she left? Who would understand like she did?
“I wanted to stay another year, but I just couldn’t,” X said. “I’m going to be 27 soon. I can’t wait too much longer.”
“I hear you. It really sucks, but that’s kind of the way it is for us. And I’ve been worrying about what to do next, because what if I put my career first now? I feel like I’m at a turning point, picking between a possibility of achievement or the possibility of a family and I feel I won’t be able to have both.”
X’s eyes twinkled. “You should go to where the opportunities are. Without a doubt. That’s what I know you have to do.”
Well, I’m definitely not in danger of giving up my dreams for someone else at this point, anyway.