12th March, 2019

Meeting my wife for coffee

I’d agreed to meet Geri for coffee. Usually, that means a brisk walk into town, but on this occasion, she was in the future. She was 6,000 miles away.

I straighten from constricted half-sleep into a twisted temporality: have we been airborne for eleven hours or eleven years? Breakfast restores some discernment as I gaze down at the blinding Japanese Alps, Fuji's distinct cone pricking the horizon.

Eventually, we land, and deplane. That word never feels right. I breeze through the efficient border, purchase a new SIM, and catch the Express to Tokyo Station. I top up my Suica, reacquaint myself with the subway system and find my way to the Marunouchi Line. At Akasaka Mitsuke I switch platforms for the Ginza line which takes me to Omotesando.

I make for street level and follow the instructions: head for the Apple Store; turn North through the narrow streets; take a left and immediate quick right; look for the Aesop. I complete each step and finally arrive at LATTEST (the uppercase is a brand thing), a coffee shop favoured by my wife, with a relaxed atmosphere and all-women baristas — one of whom is famous from her stint on Netflix reality show Terrace House.

Charcoal Latte
My charcoal latte.

I enter, and immediately see Geri. We smile, embrace, kiss. She gets me a Charcoal Latte and I make a joke about black coffee. We then spend an hour catching up (she’s been studying at COTO language academy for a few weeks) and enjoy our coffee together. I’m back in Japan.

All caught up on each others news, we make for Shimokitazawa and its forever-under-construction labyrinthine station at the heart of a neighbourhood we’d enjoyed two years previously. After a short stroll, we find our microscopic AirBnB, wedged between and above and behind a little konbini.

I land a little too hard on the unforgiving futon (let’s call it the floor), flatten myself out, and sleep in my journey-drenched clothes for an hour. As evening arrives, I am awoken, and groggily follow Geri the short distance to a family-run ramen bar we like. While Geri chats to the owners in Japanese, I’m in my own world, fighting sleep with a dedicated rhythm of slurping and drinking.

Back at the apartment, I again fall asleep on the floor in my clothes until it is time for actual nighttime sleep. I remove my clothes and return to my shallow futon dent where I sleep like the proverbial baby. For at least ten hours. Deep and blissful sleep.

This journey took place on the 16th and 17th March 2018. I'm gradually tackling drafts from the trip, and you can read the next post here.

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