Noah the banker
I accepted the offer from the company with an ignorantly sexist department head and turned down the other. Sexism was so prevalent in Japanese corporate culture (or everywhere else). Any company would have been the same. At the dawn of the 21st century, the best approach to casual sexism was to shrug it off and move on.
As I relaxed with a job secured after graduation, I started to grieve the heartbreak. Letting go of Mark was reconciling with experience in the past and reality at present. But I was hopeful that entering the professional world would bring me doses of excitement to shoot me into the clouds.
To temporarily ease my urge to be elsewhere, I favorited a Mexican restaurant, which menu and the atmosphere reminded me of Los Angeles. Maya and I sat at the counter one evening and reminisced about our time together. I noticed at the corner side of L shaped counter, a white man worked on his laptop, with beer and a plate of nachos on the side. He was bulky but professionally attired in a high-quality suit, almost bald, but presumably prematurely. He was certainly not handsome, but his manner was graceful when he talked to the bartender, and his smile was gentle when our eyes met. I wanted to spice up the night out for Maya, who was starting to look bored with me, and I had had enough drink to feel brave enough to ask him what he had to do on his laptop on a Friday night. We chatted for the rest of the night and exchanged contact at the end.
His name was Noah, a 30-year-old banker sent from the US commercial bank to open a Tokyo office alone. He had spent a part of his childhood in Japan and knew a moderate amount of the language. We started exchanging emails, and he was sincere and attentive to what I had to write. He invited me to dinner at his favorite restaurant in Daikanyama, which I couldn’t have afforded for myself. Our conversation flowed with ease in English as Noah was a fantastic listener. I felt validated, respected, and worthy. He treated people around him equally and with respect and seemed to have no distrust for others. He was also intelligent and successful without a hint of arrogance, which I found was a rare trait in a man, and a banker one at that. I later came to understand this was attributed to his humble upbringing as the son of a good reverend. His kindness, generosity, and gallantry gave me the sense of elation I needed at the time. He became my friend and confidant, and I felt a sisterly attachment to him.