I wake up. Make a cup of tea, grab my biog on Warhol that I am reading, think about what I can eat for breakfast. THe answer, to be frank, is generally…not much. My celiac doesn’t like me eating oats, not even the fancy ones that have never seen a glutinous field or shared equipment. I find myself missing oatmeal like it was some strange delicacy. Occasionally I have a bowl of certified safe oats, I pay for days in sore stomach and the rash creeping back. I think it generally not fair. All you gluten privileged lot can eat them with impunity! My genetics are flawed, my code is corrupt. It could be worse, I think, I could have another autoimmune disease on top. I imagine my life without sugar too, celiac triggered diabetes…it makes me want to cry.
I never much thought about it when I could eat whatever I like, before the celiac got awakened like some genetic gorgon in the system waiting to spoil my fun and make me sicker than I care to think about. When I ate, I never considered gluten except for buying the strongest glutinous flour for pizza making. I made my own bread, I loved making bread. My son still remembers days in Tokyo when I would buy the strong flour from Kaldi and produce real pizzas like magic from my tiny little toaster oven.
I made everything in that oven. Entire Christmas dinners! I would throw in a chicken, cut into pieces to fit, cook it, foil over it while I roasted the potatoes next. It was a production. It took hours of careful planning and reheating in my microwave. Somehow I laid on roast chicken, roast potatoes and parsnips, onions and golden roasted carrots. Cornbread because the children liked it. Gravy, streamed veg, homemade cranberry sauce. Charming had insisted I made a Christmas dinner in exchange for buying me a tiny toaster oven. I didn’t bother explaining that it was virtually impossible – the Japanese do not have real sized ovens in their houses, such things are not even sold there. The typical home has three burners, a fish grill and a microwave.
We had two chairs – he never considered buying more, I bought those with me into the marriage, He sat at one, the Girl at the other, I put the Boy on the floor with a tray at his little kid’s fold out chair. By the time I had served the meal up, and gone back and forth to the kitchen, settled the children and went to sit next to the Boy on the floor there was nothing left. Not a scrap. The Girl had had a tiny piece of chicken, a potato and a spoon of veg, the Boy hadn’t got any chicken at all yet. The Pig was earning his name. He was panting, gasping for breath like a prize eater, stuffing food into his mouth at a tremendous rate. Globules of gravy hung from his chin, he sat back a second, took a deep breath, sweating and red in the face. He had done it. He had eaten an entire roast chicken, except for one tiny slice that sat on Girl’s plate. She cut it into three pieces, and solemnly offered a bite to me, and one to her brother. As I leaned over to help her Pig grabbed my breast hard with one hand, and my ass hard with the other, leaving deep purple marks. I stopped, stuck, caught, frozen. I couldn’t help it. I started to shout. I had been up for hours, cooking, cleaning, looking after the kids, trying to balance the meal’s preparation and he did this on purpose. It was his protest against what? I hated him. I hated him in that moment so purely, so desperately, so wholly I did the only thing possible. I grabbed the bottle of wine that he had bought, taken one sip out of, and spat out, instead screaming for a beer to wash down his Olympian effort eating an entire chicken in under ten minutes. I grabbed the bottle, grabbed the kids, went to the back bedroom, and drank and drank and drank. I didn’t even pour it into a glass. I just drank. I drank until the room span, then passed out on the bed. Happy Christmas kids. At least I didn’t fight back. At least we are alive. At least I am still here, at least I didn’t leave you. At least I didn’t get on a plane, and say fuck this, and walk away from them. I couldn’t. Not allowed to take them with me due to international law, not allowed to remove them from Japan, not able to leave him and stay in Japan because then my visa would be invalid, stuck there. Stuck there with him in that apartment, humiliated, hurt, furious but never able to show it. He was not going to break me. Not now, not ever.
I won’t pretend I didn’t consider just leaving without them. It crossed my mind in neon, writ large: you can’t take them, but you can go. I couldn’t do it. I would get desperate, breathless, hysterical, I would grab them close and hold them to me and cry into their hair. So I stayed. I stayed and stayed and stayed some more. I didn’t stay because I was co dependent on the piece of shit. I stayed because I couldn’t take the kids with me and not go to jail. I tried to leave so many times, I even made it out of the country, but dragged through courts, demanded of me to return the kids, I just went back with them.
He went back to work the next day, Christmas is not usually a holiday in Japan – it just fell on a Saturday. Me and the kids had a feast from the Yakitori shop. Momonegi. Fried balls of yakitori shop potato. Thick sweet sauce. Chicken livers and an gari gari kun ice bar each in some strange flavor. The kids liked the corn soup ones. We watched movies on the TV. We sat and sang songs together. We hugged and loved and were together. It was everything. It was all I had. All the money he earnt, his big job in a big company, and I was scratching around for 200 yen for a movie rental, and the equivalent of twelve bucks for some take out. I hoped he would have a heart attack: he never did.
I keep thinking every day is like Christmas now, except it is just me and the Boy nowadays. We watch movies, no one tries to hit us (except bastard men on streets who want to vent their Anti Asian hate at my kid), we eat every single day, and eat reasonably well. We have a bed each. Me and the Boy slept on a box spring with no mattress, the Girl had the sofa – he would not buy us beds. I have my guitar, and my lap top, and a phone that works. I had no phone the entire time I was out in Japan. No one cared. No one cared apart from Billy, and Billy is currently off trying to be Keith Moon on a bad binge.
As reasonable as I can be now, as much as I do not let the anger and hate overtake me anymore, make no mistake, I’ll never forgive him. Not ever. I just won’t let it take me down.
I celebrate your strength!
and me yours, sister!