To see a list of all of the posts in this series, click here. (*^-^*)
So here I was, standing in front of a train station in the outskirts of the city. I’d just ridden a train for a few hours, nervously fiddling with my phone the entire way. Now my heart was pounding too, because my instructions had been:
“When you reach XXX station, call Konomi-sensei on his cell, and he’ll come to pick you up. Yoroshiku ne!”
It’s probably not such a common thing, but cold-calling in the first place scares the bejeezus out of me. I just am shy. I don’t think there is a single person alive who knows me who will come right out and say that I’m shy, but I don’t know what else to call it. Calling someone, anyone, even friends, scares me. Who knows what they are doing or what I’m interrupting. I don’t want to be THAT person that calls and wakes you up, or interrupts time with your loved one. Even if I know what they’re doing, or that they’re waiting for my call, sometimes it’s hard. Once, in high school, I had to call a lawyer to interview him for a class project. He knew that I was going to call, but I started crying uncontrollably as I stood by the phone trying to call, and ran away to my room. Eventually, HE called, and my Mom tried to get me to answer, but I was terrified. That’s how shy I was.
Yet, I’m really outgoing to people after I meet them. Go figure. I like to think that I’ve improved over time, and certainly having a blog for years and meeting all sorts of new people, and working with the public in many different jobs over the years has cured me of some portion of that. But still, I think, fundamentally, I’m shy, and anything above that is just me trying to stretch beyond my comfort zone. I don’t drink much at all, but maybe I should, because it might help. ヾ(￣∇￣=ﾉ
Back to the station— I was standing there, my heart pounding, and I hadn’t even picked up the phone, so to speak! But as the minutes ticked away and the time grew nearer to our set meeting time, I swallowed every last bit of my nervousness and dialed the number I had already programmed into my phone (because who would want to lose it, even if I’d never call it again?!). To my dismay (and elation), he picked up almost immediately.
Surely it was awful for him to have to speak to me, who couldn’t understand much japanese, and probably spoke with a strange accent. Not to mention, I had a suspicious feeling that I was sweating BADLY. I know that he couldn’t smell it over the phone, but somehow he must have sensed it, right?
I’ll never know. Or, maybe.. actually, I think, one day I’ll ask him what was going on in his head when he first heard and first met me. Also, before that.. I have no problem talking to him anymore, mostly because we’ve known each other for three years, and I’ve seen him at some of his worst (and vice-versa. DEFINTIELY he’s seen me at some of my disgustingly disgusting worsts. ヽ(;;;・ω・)ﾉ
In a very, very brief conversation he ascertained that I was indeed:
1. The person who was supposed to call.
2. Totally lost&scared&uncomprehending.
As such, he told me to stay put, and he could come and pick me up in his car.
At least, that’s what I think he said. My japanese really, really sucked, as you’ll find out soon.
Life was much easier in the five minutes between hanging up the call and him arriving. I spent it trying to ignore everything around me and pretend to check my cell phone. Let him come up to me– that was the idea, because I wasn’t sure if he still looked like the picture I’d found in the old dust jackets of the Prince of Tennis manga:
(picture scanned from the Japanese version of the Prince of Tennis, vol. 13)
In fact, he looked much more like this:
(picture taken at Jump Festa in Dec 2009 – picture is from here.)
I was NOT expecting that when I felt a tap on my shoulder!
WHO IS THIS GORGEOUS MAN?!!!!????!!!???????? is what I thought at the time.
“Are you miss Jamie?” he asked me.
THIS is Konomi-sensei?!! You look like a pop star, not a mangaka!! I have no idea what I said, but I was flabbergasted, so I probably didn’t say much.
Probably because I was fairly speechless, and doubtless that talking to me was sort of lopsided, he led me to his car (oh yes, like being alone would make it easier!). Safely buckled into the front seat next to HIS HIGHNESS, I was subjected to the normal questions that one becomes used to in Japan as a foreigner: Where are you from? How long have you been here? I’m sure I screwed the answers all up. I wonder what he was thinking (I should ask him.).
Then, he asked me, “Have you read my series, Prince of Tennis?”
Well, duh. Why else would I be here? Right?
Except, to be honest, I hadn’t read more than a tiny bit. ^^; I was a huge fan, but I’d only seen the anime, because that was a lot more accessible to someone who wasn’t a native speaker. In fact, I’d marathoned the fansubs right before I moved to Japan (thankfully, I knew enough to NOT tell him that I’d watched his series illegally on my computer (￣∇￣;) ﾊｯﾊｯﾊｯ *cough cough*).
I was, um, truthful with him. I’m awful. I hate lying. Not saying that I don’t ever lie- just that it leaves an awful taste in my mouth. I will ONLY do it as a last resort. I’d much rather try to phrase the truth in a positive way, or at least a gentle way. (Not saying I’m always successful) So I told him that I’d mainly watched the anime, only read a little of the manga. Thankfully, he didn’t seem to mind! He’s probably better at hiding his feelings than me. (Actually, I’m sure of it. You’ll see what I mean as I write.)
He asked me what my favorite character was, and I said, KEVIN!
Oh my GOD, what was I thinking?!?!!!! See, was an anime-only character, which means that Konomi-sensei had nothing to do with him. Some other person paid to think up plot lines to extend the anime came up with him.
Later on, I would change my answer to Ryoma. Ryoma truly probably is my all-time favorite character.
He also happens to be the hero of the manga. 🙂 But at the time, I was really enamored with Kevin, who was an anime-only character. He just laughed.
Right then, we were pulling up at his studio. “Here it is. Can you get out and wait at the front door?” He said something along those lines, though the exact wording is lost in the sands of time and don’t-quite-fully-understand-japanese-yet.
By the way, he drives a VERY expensive car. It looks like a black jeep, but it’s actually a different, very expensive brand. Like $50,000+ luxury imported car expensive. But I won’t say the brand for privacy reasons, sorry ^^;
The building looks like a normal house, really. A bit western-ish as opposed to Japanese design.
If you don’t want to wait, you can see it (and me) in this video clip from a Japanese tv show:
That video was taken the following summer, by the way. More about that when it comes to that part of the story!
To the immediate left of that entryway (across from the studio), is a door that leads into a tiny bedroom.
(The top right bunk was mine for 1½ years.)
“You can use this bed,” Konomi-sensei said to me. “Just put your overnight stuff here.”
Wait, what…. BED?! Night?! I had the distinct feeling that somewhere along the way, something had gotten lost in translation….
To be continued..!!