Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sticking up

I got some new pants. They are red. My husband said, "they are very red." I guess they stand out here in Japan. I remember liking my red leather pumps in high school; sometimes I guess I like to stand out.

Each school day we walk down the yochien path to catch the school bus, I notice the unending line of black suits on their way to the train station; it is all so somber. I was happy to have some cheery pants on today. I felt a bit rock-n-roll or as if I was secretly rebelling against all that black or maybe just saying "I have had enough black."

I have a friend that always dresses like a rock-n-roll chic. She is always wearing something with an edge- pirate patch on her jeans, Rolling Stones t-shirt, studded shirt, leather jacket. She is a Japanese mom, but she is a rocker chic to me too. Her English is limited and my Japanese is even more limited, but the rocker chic part needs no words so this is a story of her I have formed since she consistently reflects the rebel rocker chic in her fashion choices. I like seeing her and how she reflects this look at different events. I guess it is a way I amuse myself since I can't comprehend anything they are saying in the mama meetings anyway. (There are a lot of mama meetings in Japanese yochiens).

Last night I sat up a bit reading Keith Richards' story about getting arrested in the 1970s in Arkansas. Man, I forgot what rebels the Stones were back in the day. People went crazy because of the way they wore their hair-girlie men, really? the Stones?; because they liked "black music," all those drugs, and generally just their approach to life being a tad different. Today as I was wearing my screaming red pants, rebelling against the black uniform of winter, I wondered how the Japanese approach standing out?

There is a Japanese proverb that says, "the nail that sticks up will be hammered down." I see how everything and everyone so flows together here. It works, I float along all of the time, but I get to wear red pants and send my I am not conforming flag up the pole. I understand the Japanese way is to let your hair down at home- there is a public face and a private face. I wonder how that would work?

I also read a bit of Ricky Martin's story last night. His story seemed more about his desire to bring two separate identities into one and the same narrative- meaning his public persona of hot rocker dude and his private persona- he's gay- into one so that life is simpler. I get that. I can comprehend just wanting to be whatever you are. Learning all of the rules and manners seems like work. Yet, I like living in Japan- it is easy to figure out what to do. There is a real comfort to all of the rituals and conformity- you can rely on it. The weather may not feel like fall, but everyone will dress as if it is fall anyway. The tea will be hot now. You only get cold tea in the spring summer season even if the day is cold. It may seem autistic, but it is comforting. I just don't know how you handle the sticking up part. Sometimes for no apparent reason, I feel the need to stick up.