Woe is any town unfortunate enough to be home. It’s the first place to be maligned when asked, and often when not . The biggest complaint is that there is nothing to do. This may not be true if you live in New York City, Tokyo, or some other metropolis, the borders of which seem to house a small planet’s worth of spectacle.
I’ve never lived in such a place, though. Whether by chance or fate, mine is always the home with more fields and trees than people, more mountains to climb than reliable pubs to soothe what ails you. And so it’s always been that I’ve looked away from my home for my adventures.
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I think I’m giving my new friends a mixed impression. At the bar, at the noodle shop, I’m fine just to sit back and let everybody else talk. I drink in the smell of ancient tatami mats and wood that make my grandpa seem like a newborn. So long as the vittles, beer, and conversation are equally plentiful, I’m good with just relaxing.
Once we get outside, though, I’m the boisterous, blathering fool I always was, and likely always will be. Is that a castle nestled in the clouds over there? We need to climb that. Now that we’re at the top of the castle, let’s go play around in that hilly woodland in the distance. No, why are you hopping in the car? Let’s just walk.
I’m terrible to be friends with.
My dad had this wonderful train set when I was a kid. Built atop a slab of plywood the size of a small bedroom, he’d wrought mountains from papier-mâché, built villages populated with policemen, grocery stores, and sports cars. I loved that train set, so I destroyed it.
I peeled locomotives from their tracks and — using a flat-head screwdriver and the powers of Hell — peered into their guts. Whole lines disappeared, imaginary travelers vanishing into the ether forever. Eventually I moved on, but not before tearing through dad’s once majestic world like Godzilla on amphetamines. To this day, I still love trains, though, so it’s great to live in Japan, where life necessitates a daily ride.