Expression

Itte rasshai,” he said, right after we kissed.

Itte kimasu,” I replied automatically.

A usual exercise in my Japanese for Beginners class was that the teacher would say a phrase or expression and all the students would give the response in unison.

Arigatou gozaimasu,’ she’d say. ‘Dou itashimashite,’ we’d respond. ‘Tadaima,’ she’d say next. ‘Okaeri nasai,’ we’d answer. These expressions were common and therefore useful to memorize, she told us. And then she told us about the situations wherein they were used. ‘Itte rasshai’ and ‘Itte kimasu‘ were said whenever someone left the house to go to school or work, she explained.

But R said it to me in front of the turnstile at the train station, just before I went past it to catch the Shinkansen to Tokyo.

I gave the expected reply without thinking, and smiled and waved goodbye before turning the corner to get to the platform and disappearing from his sight. I did notice him taking a deep breath after I said it, as though it was something more than a language nuance. But at the time I didn’t think it was important. At the time, I was mostly thinking about catching my train.

When I finally had some time free, I realized I didn’t even know what the phrases actually meant. I knew they were used together, but what did they translate to? I looked them up and somewhere on the Internet I found they were interpreted like this:

Itte rasshai – You’re leaving now, but please come back.
Itte kimasu – I have to go, but don’t worry because I’ll come back.

I’ve previously read about one’s significant other feeling like one’s home. I think that’s already romantic without context, but being in a long distance relationship now, it feels more relevant to me somehow. We have places we need to go and things we need to do, but at the end of the day, we come back to the person who feels like home.

Itte kimasu, Ryuichi. I love you.

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This Place

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Like a good movie, I never get tired of seeing this view.

I always like coming here. Perhaps, because I always have good memories of this place. From when we used to have picnics here when I was a kid, to the high school retreats, to the day or overnight trips with my family and friends. You could even say that this is where I fell in love.

Or, okay, of course, I’m being melodramatic. But shouldn’t you be, when talking about love?

This was the backdrop when he and I first looked into each other’s eyes and knew. And perhaps we’ll never know if it was the reason why we felt the things we did–I mean, who looks at this view and feels the cool breeze and hears the quiet in this place without thinking of romantic things? But does it really matter?

am a bit saddened by the fact that it seems they’re overdeveloping this place (if they haven’t already, and really, I might say the same for the rest of the world). And the next time I come here, or the next time anyone comes here, the atmosphere of wanting to fall in love would be gone. Already, instead of respite from the city, I can hear the screams of people on the roller coaster at the amusement park next-door. Not that that can’t be a good backdrop for two people falling in love either.

So, yeah. I always like coming here.

“Oh. It’s me.”

was on the verge of getting mad at him. He’d said something, I now forget what exactly, but at the time I thought it was important to let him know my negative opinion of it. And it was in the middle of my now forgotten rant that he suddenly said, “Wait.”

I stopped talking. But he didn’t say anything. “What?” I prompted. And still, he didn’t respond. His video was backlit so I couldn’t even see his face properly. I couldn’t get a clue as to why he interrupted me. There had been a few seconds of silence already. I was getting impatient.

The next thing that happened was that a message alert popped up on the screen of my phone:

Anton Alvarez sent you a photo.

I furrowed my eyebrows. “Why are you sending me a photo now?” I asked irritably, wondering why he couldn’t just tell me what he wanted. We were already talking. Why send me a picture, too?

I tapped on the message alert.

“Oh. It’s me,” I said as I found myself looking at my face from a few seconds ago.

He’d taken a screenshot of our video call. “You look pretty there,” he said.

I didn’t say anything I was so caught off-guard. A few more seconds of silence passed.

He broke the ice. “So, what were we talking about?” he asked.

“Um…” I started, struggling to remember. I shrugged. “Nothing important.”

12:52:04

There was an audible silence at the other end of the line. Or, it was really from both ends as it wouldn’t have been a silence at all if it weren’t mutual. She didn’t know what to do. She was looking at the timer and so she knew, it had been at least three whole seconds since either of them spoke. She pressed ‘End Call’ as soon as the second timer turned into four. After all, the last statement they exchanged was ‘Good night.’ And for a phone call, that was as good as ‘Goodbye.’ The phone call was over. But she couldn’t ignore the four seconds between the last things they said, and the actual end of the digital connection. It was as though they’d left enough space for each other to say one more thing.

“I love you,” she whispered, staring at the extra four seconds on the timer on her phone.

“I love you,” he whispered, too.