Shima the artist
A few months after I received the job offer, my to-be employer held a day-long orientation in a hotel conference room in Tokyo. Over 100 new graduates came together, including those who traveled from the Kansai region. Only 20 or so of us were hired by business departments, and the rest were artists and programmers.
Sitting diagonally forward was a guy with spiky silver-dyed hair. He turned around when we had to form a discussion group. His face was boyish for his age but handsome, with brows that grew in an aesthetically correct angle. His compact figure was donned with a gray, vintage-looking suit, unlike the mass-produced polyester of everyone else’s. Our eyes met as I observed him. He locked his gaze, absent of discomfort nor innuendo as if it was the most natural thing to happen to two Japanese people. I held the eye contact for as long as five seconds before gesturing to the end with a smile.
This was my first encounter with Shima, the artist. There weren’t necessarily any romantic feelings between us, but I was eager to get to know him. His interest in me was reciprocated by neither verbal or facial expressions but by actions. He never failed to reply to my email, which resulted in regular correspondence. He lived in Kyoto at the time, so we met up there when I took a family trip, and I remained in the city after my parents and sister left. He came on his motorcycle. I had never been in the back of one, so I had no idea where to hold onto. As we rode along the Kamo River in the Autumn night, I figured the safest way was to hold onto his waist. I hesitated the intimacy, though necessary. But Shima kept calm and rode on, which gave me comfort and allowed me to enjoy the scenery of an ancient capital.