Noah showed me a different dimension of Tokyo. As a successful white American ex-pat of a major bank, he enjoyed access to the high-quality life Tokyo offered to only the privileged.
We’d usually meet at a restaurant of his choice. Sometimes it was one that the majority of customers were suited westerners, and other times it was more like izakaya that he wanted to try, but none of them was the kind that a university student could afford to dine at. I had the best rib at Roy’s, brunch at Park Hyatt Tokyo, and was introduced to the taste of Veuve Cliquot.
When he invited me to see Diana King at Blue Note Tokyo, I was over the moon. I was never music savvy, but her voice and the rhythm always gave me a shiver. In an intimate setting of the venue, I felt the vibration of her divine presence through my skin. She walked on a little runway created with chairs toward the audience, and I thought I could touch the tattooed angel wings on her shoulder blades. I was in ecstatic awe when I caught Noah in the corner of my eyes. In his weekend clothing of polo shirt and chino trousers, he was enjoying the show but clapping out of rhythm.
My sister asked me if Noah was my boyfriend when I was dressing up before meeting him. I told her he was my friend. “But you are not sleeping with him,” she asked, “does he pay for meals and concerts without expecting you anything in return?” I said he didn’t.
It was true. Noah never asked me to be his girlfriend or made physical advances toward me. He did tell me I was beautiful and I looked nice but in a manner of general compliment. He introduced me to his friends by my name, and we never spent special occasions together. So I understood he liked to have me around as a companion for his otherwise solitary outings. I couldn’t say I was romantically attracted to him, either. I wanted a fiery passion with my man as I had had with Mark. We’d spend hours talking about films and books, past and future, and hopes and fears over a homecooked meal, then sleep entangled in each other’s bodies. My relationship with Noah was different.
Also, I was again bothered by the same rhetoric that women had to offer men sex in exchange for material gifts. Noah and I enjoyed spending time together in a non-romantic way, and he had the financial power to pay for both of us. I gave him gifts for his birthday and Christmas and brought back something when I traveled. He did the same. Our relationship had an equilibrium of its own kind while it lasted.