My Best Friend

I first met Jayne while teaching English in Japan.  I met her through my housemate, who was meeting a bunch of friends to go see War of the Worlds.  Of the four people we met up with, I believe he knew three of them.  The fourth was Jayne.  Of the women there, she was the prettiest, and she had a pretty rocking accent.  Plus, she wore a shirt that showed off her cleavage.

Another part of her wardrobe almost caused problems for her: her shoes.  They were not conducive to walking, and, on the way back from the ladies room, she almost fell head over heels in front of an old Japanese man.

The next time I met Jayne was when we were going to a club to see another friend of my housemate DJ.  We ended up being too late to see his friend, but still had a good time.  Jayne came with the small entourage that Melky, my housemate, brought with him.

The next meeting may well have been when we went ice skating.  It was the three of us and one more female.  I remember, from the train station, that this was the first time that I saw Mt. Fuji.

I talked to Jayne during these encounters.  She smoked, she drank, she swore.  Only the first vice canceled her out as a girlfriend, though she did tell me that she was quitting (she would quit several more times after that).  Also, as she became more familiar to me, I started to like her more and more as a friend.

Still, we didn’t become good friends until after she came back from teaching in Moscow.  It would be a fateful decision, coming back to Japan, for if she hadn’t, she wouldn’t have met her future husband, and I would not be here right now, writing this story of how I met her, how she met him, and how we all met a week ago to celebrate their wedding.

Each teacher at NOVA (where I worked) had two days off, but they weren’t the same two days off, and were almost never Saturday and Sunday (since those two days were when the schools were the busiest).  I had Tuesday and Wednesday off.  Melky had Sunday and Monday off.  At one point, I got bored with doing stuff by myself all the time.  I complained about this to Melky, and he mentioned that Jayne had Wednesdays and Thursdays off.  I think I only met up with Jayne two or three times on these Wednesdays before she started seeing Shane, but it was enough to cement our friendship, and when she changed her days off to Thursday and Friday, so that she and Shane could spend one whole day together, she still made an effort to meet up with me whenever possible.

What did we do on those days off, before she met Shane?  We simply walked around parts of Tokyo and talked to each other, while looking for a place to eat.  We often had to backtrack, as we’d both get so involved in our conversations that we’d forget where we were going.  Despite having different life experiences, we had similar outlooks on life.

[Jayne is also responsible, directly or indirectly, for every single woman that I dated while in Japan.  Talk about a good friend! :-)]

I first met Shane through Jayne.  We went to a going away party for a British teacher whom we both knew.  The party started at the Hub (a bar popular with us Western types, which was super crowded) and ended in Inokashira Park.  Jayne had already told me about meeting Shane, though she hadn’t told me his name.  At some point during the going away party, she realized he was there.  I know because she abandoned me at some point, even though we had gone there together.

When she appeared again, she said the following words:

“I think I may have a boyfriend.”

I wasn’t formally introduced to Shane that night.  I merely saw who he was, and saw that Jayne was enamoured with him, as they walked back to the station together with one of his friends: she leaning on his body, me bringing up the rear.  It wouldn’t be until New Year’s Eve that I would formally meet him.

On that occasion, a bunch of us went to karaoke in Roppongi and sang until the first trains arrived the next day.  Jayne had a little too much to drink and got upset over something silly, like not being able to reach one of her friends by phone.  I saw how Shane handled the situation, and I knew that he was good for her.  Jayne is a person who does everything to excess.  Shane was the only person I saw who could reign her in.

I can’t tell you the countless times that Jayne came to my rescue in Japan.  There was the time when I was worried about losing my job at NOVA: she met up with me that day, after her classes were over, and listened, and gave advice, and made me feel better.  When I broke up with my Japanese girlfriend (or rather, when my Japanese girlfriend broke up with me), Jayne felt helpless, as it was the day before her going away party.  Still, when I showed up at the party, she was concerned about me, and tried to help as best she could.  I had to stiffen my resolve once Jayne left with Shane for Australia, as I knew that I could no longer rely on her to come to my rescue, now that she was a continent away.  Melky had long ago ceased being my housemate, and–at the time that Jayne left–had ceased being my friend (which, of course, Jayne was there for, too).

That is why I had to go to her wedding.

This would be my second time visiting Brisbane.  The first time was two months after Shane and Jayne had moved there.  I was their first friend from overseas to visit them.  I got to know Shane better on that trip, as he hung out with us at night.  I also noticed how Jayne complimented him well, as he could be a bit too laid back at times.  During the day, they both worked, so I was given the key to their house, Jayne’s cell phone, and a meetup time.  The rest of the day, I explored Brisbane, mostly confined to indoor pursuits at first, due to the rain.  Only one event, during the weekend, did Jayne and I do by ourselves, which was to walk through a Sunday Market on Brisbane’s Southbank.  I walked near it on my last day in Brisbane after the wedding, and it filled me with sadness.  Remembering a good memory, and realizing that it is now only a memory, does that to me.

Because Shane and Jayne had planned the wedding themselves, and because they had worked out most of the details before I arrived, I got to spend more time with Jayne during this visit than I did the previous time.  Also, unlike the first time I had visited, she had been able to take two weeks off of work, only having to go in briefly on Tuesday.  I had two days to myself, and limited time with them at the wedding.  Otherwise, I got to see her–along with her best friend from uni (and matron of honor at the wedding)–everyday.

Some highlights:

Koala holding.

Whale watching.

And, of course, the wedding.

Walking Down the Path to "Book of Love" by Peter Gabriel

[Click here for the link to the above song]

There was a wonderful Arabic reading of an excerpt from The Prophet, and a not-so-great-reading of its English translation.  Listening to the original, I could understand why Muslims wish for the Koran to be read in its original language: the words very well could have come from the mouth of God.

The wedding was outside, at a park, near a large body of water, in a gazebo.  Shane and Jayne were married by a celebrant–that is to say, a Justice of the Peace, or its equivalent, in Australia.  The rings were hidden in two boxes out of all the ones which were passed around to the guests before the wedding began.  The boxes were gold-colored and had two handles on top that fit together to make a heart.  Inside all of the boxes were chocolates.

The reception was in a boat.  The best man was the master of ceremonies.  The father of the groom, the matron of honor, and the best man gave speeches.  All were brief and quite good.  The matron of honor also read a letter from Jayne’s parents, who couldn’t be at the wedding (England is even farther from Australia than Seattle is).

The dancing got underway late.  Shane and Jayne danced to “Moon River.” The song that followed was quite strange and not one that I was familiar with.  The next song choice, however, floored me.

I shouldn’t have been surprised.  This was the song that Jayne and I sang all the time at karaoke.  Obviously, she had loved the song before she met me and wanted to make it part of the celebration.  But to have it as part of the wedding reception, to include it while I was present, was–for me–a way of acknowledging our friendship.   A way of acknowledging me.

I had to go up there and dance to it.

At the time,  I wasn’t even thinking of dancing with her.  When she saw me, however, she waived me over, but then, the father of the groom asked for a dance (Shane’s mom danced the song with Shane).  So, I got to dance with Jennifer, the matron of honor.  I told her all about the song, though I was so stunned and so…I don’t know what, that I could hardly get the words out.  She understood what I was saying, though, and she said, “Oh, then you’re next.”  As in, the next to dance with Jayne.

Once Shane’s father ended his dance with her, I cut in.  For all her worries about not being able to dance, Jayne is not a bad dancer.  I don’t remember if she danced at the club we went to with Melky, but this is certainly the first time I’ve slow-danced with her.  She had to get her dress fixed after the dance, and I don’t think I saw her dance to too many more songs on the dance floor (though Shane came out with the groomsmen to sing and dance to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which all of the guests sang along to).  The rest of the night, I danced with a woman at my table, another former NOVA teacher.

There was no bouquet-throwing (Jennifer was the next one to get married, so Jayne just gave her the bouquet), not garter-throwing (though Jayne wore one), but there were late-night drinks on shore at the Pig ‘N Whistle, once the reception was over.  I went with Jennifer, and we met other members of the wedding party there.  In effect, it was similar to when Melky, Maki (Jayne’s former Japanese teacher), and I arrived at the reception site early and had a drink with some of the other wedding guests.

All in all, I had a wonderful time there.  I know Jayne (and Shane) were thrilled that I could come.  I was thrilled that I could go.  But now that they are moving forward with their lives, it’s time for me to move forward with mine.

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4 thoughts on “My Best Friend”

  1. I’m glad you got to spend time with your friend and that the wedding went well!
    Friends are such a blessing, aren’t they? Just reading this made me miss my best friend!

    Ooh, you got to hold a koala?! That must be a fun experience to boast. 🙂

    LD: Friends are indeed a blessing, especially the really good ones.

  2. Thanks for your beautiful words about both our friends ship and my relationship with Shane. We were so happy that you were there to share the wedding and that you were there to support me given how nervous i was over the whole thing!Next time i visit you in Seattle. And i expect good weather!
    Hopefully learning,
    Jayne

    LD: I’m glad you liked it. Consider it my wedding present to the two of you. 🙂 Also, if you want nice weather, visit me in the middle of the summer. We’re getting rain right now. 😦

  3. Awesome story (and story-telling) 🙂

    I stayed near Roppongi during my short trip to Tokyo earlier this May. Kinda crazy, isn’t it?

    LD: Thank you. Roppongi’s pretty well known among foreigners, though maybe not for reasons that the Japanese government approves of. 😉

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