I sensed relocation to Germany was going to be a stepping stone rather than a destination. I was 27 years old single woman who’d coil at a sight of a Uniqlo-dressed couple driving a stroller-loaded van to a suburban shopping mall. I needed to keep feeding myself doses of ecstasy, and what made me feel the most ecstatic was a sense of freedom, autonomy, and possibilities. Leaving the country felt as liberating as a rebirth.
I arranged to meet with Mr. N during his next visit to Japan to tell him about my decision. We went to an Izakaya in Akasaka, near the hotel he had stayed. We sat next to each other at the counter. After a few glasses of beer and yakitori skewers, I expressed my will to move and concerns about the conditions. I’d be taking the risk of diminishing security for when I return. He said my current salary was indeed meager compared to those men who were relocating to the US. I told him I believed I’d thrive if only given opportunities to do so, but I only needed slightly better conditions than I was currently offered. I suggested the amount of increase. Mr. N asked, “that is not a problem. So you will come?” I replied, “sure I will!” He laughed, and we shook hands and clinked the glasses.
I relaxed as I felt right about my decision. I might lose a lot IF I return. So I had to make sure I wouldn’t. And I didn’t want to. I wanted to keep going, seeing the world, and putting myself in new environments. People get the temporary experience through traveling, but I wanted to stay tripped perpetually by living it.
Both Mr. N and I were pleasantly inebriated by the end of the night. As Mr. N paid the bill and I was getting ready to leave, he suggested we had more drinks in his hotel room. I laughed and didn’t answer, hoping he joked and let it go. We walked toward the hotel as the subway station was right by it. He kept telling me to come to the hotel, and I kept refusing, but when we got closer, he said, “I can’t believe you decline my invitation.” A hint of irritation worried me as I had only landed an oral agreement on my move. I thought of what other people, like Mr. Hirao and Mr. Yoshida, would do. A part of the reason they succeeded was because of their bond with the apostles. Accompanying them for drinks is a part of the job. I said I could stay for a drink but would have to leave to catch the subway train. “Don’t worry about the train. I will get you on a taxi,” he said gleefully.
In the hotel room, he made me sit on a bench barely big enough for two people, and opened a can of beer, and made himself a glass of whiskey water. I sat with my back straight, wetting my lips with foam at the open of the can. I kept our conversation light and offered as much humor as I could in the circumstances. Mr. N sat back, with his arm rested on top of my side of the bench, his body turned slightly toward me. He said what he once told me, that I had to always be with him so that he could support me to grow. I agreed and told him I’d do my best and tried to change the topic of conversation to something unrelated to ourselves. We didn’t sit there for longer than five minutes when Mr. N’s hand moved down from the back of the bench to my lower back. I freeze for a moment, then inched forward to escape from it, but I had already been sitting at the very edge. I couldn’t move to the side, trapped by the arm of the bench. I acted casually and kept the conversation going. A pause could trigger hell that’d ruin what I had long worked for—meanwhile, Mr. N’s hand now rubbed my lower back. As I talked, I glanced at the door behind Mr.N, but I shouldn’t have checked my watch. Mr. N moved an inch closer to me, and his fingers slipped under the waist of my skirt and touched the skin of my back.