Yesterday Ryosuke and I went over to a friend’s house for dinner. As the evening was winding down, I moved to the couch while the boys continued to compare “work horror stories” in Japanese. As a freelancer working primarily with Western companies from home, my brand of “horror stories” are vastly different than someone working at a traditional Japanese company. Plus, when I’m participating in the conversation, they have to speak Japanese a tad bit slower, to make sure I can catch everything.
So I moved to the couch and absentmindedly flipped through a travel magazine.
Ryosuke and I love to travel. We took our first trip together to Miami when we had only been dating a couple months. We stayed at a small hostel North of Miami Beach (aka “party central”), ate at a different restaurant every day for lunch (ordering things we couldn’t pronounce), and told everyone we were honeymooners, young and in love. Years later, that’s still one of our fondest memories.
Towards the end of the trip, I got sick. Not badly, just enough that we had to spend the last two days (of our five-day trip) laying on the beach, not doing much.
It was frustrating… but we had each other, so it was ok.
I took him to Texas to meet my family. We got a groupon (remember when groupon was a thing?) discount for a 3 hour paintball session. On the way to the ranch, I started to feel sick. We turned around and went home. Ten minutes from home, I started to feel dizzy. Ryosuke doesn’t have a drivers license in America, so we couldn’t switch drivers. I had to pull over to the side of the road several times and crank the heat to stop shivering. He carried me inside the house, since I fell right out of the car. I was bed-ridden for four days.
It was embarrassing… but he just wiped my forehead with a cool cloth and snuggled with me in bed – chatting about all our dreams.
We got married and went to Peru on our honeymoon. I was feeling fine, just a little sleepy. I went back to the hotel for an afternoon nap. Ryosuke poked around the market for an hour, then joined me at the hotel. I was unconscious when he found me – covered in sweat and hallucinating. Smart man – my husband called an ambulance.
I had amoebas in my stomach, an infection in my stomach, bladder, and intestines, and a nasty parasite that decided my appendix needed to go. I was fine – then suddenly, I wasn’t.
Even now, I don’t remember what happened.
After surgery, I got another infection.
We cancelled the rest of our honeymoon (backpacking through South America) and flew home.
Ryosuke and I used to lie in bed for hours and talk about all the things we were going to do. We were going to spend two weeks climbing Machu Picchu. We were going to walk the Santiago Trail from Portugal to Spain. We were going to work in Africa for a year (possibly Ghana, where my parents live) at any number of sanitation NGOs Ryosuke loves. We were going to travel through Southeast Asia.
We don’t talk like that anymore.
My biggest regret in life is that I can’t give my husband the world – because of my own weaknesses.
If I was born in America 100 years ago, I wouldn’t have survived childhood. If I was born these days, to an “average” family in a developing country, I wouldn’t have survived childhood either. All in all, I am incredibly lucky and incredibly privileged to be born to parents who love me and could financially afford to take time off work to take care of me when I got sick.
I’m not “normal.”
Several of y’all have asked why I freelance, instead of having a “real” job. The embarrassing truth is, I can’t have a “real” job – I tried. I must get 8 hours of sleep every night or I get sick. Even then, when I feel myself coming down with something, I need to drop everything, take vitamins, and take a nap – or I get sick.
Working a “regular” job is horrible (especially an average Japanese company, where sick days technically exist, but you are highly discouraged from ever taking them). So I freelance. These days, the income I net from freelancing is (almost) equal to what I would have made at my last job. I’m so glad. And I’m so thankful y’all read my blog and encouraged me to keep writing. I’m lucky.
I love my husband. I want to give him the world – and more. I want to travel all over the globe with him, learning and doing crazy, adventuresome things. But we can’t. And most of the time, I don’t even think about it… but sometimes it just hits me. Like when I was flipping through our friend’s travel magazine.
In Peru, the doctor told us how close I was to dying. We were leaving the next day for a nine day, grueling hike to the top of Machu Piccu. If I had gotten sick during that hike, I wouldn’t have made it.
We got lucky. That wasn’t the first time and it certainly won’t be the last. Rysouke has taken me to the hospital seven times, on three different continents. One day, we’re not going to make it to the hospital in time.
And that sucks, because we have come to realize that this constant danger means we need to always play it safe. No risks. Always have a hospital within a 2-hour drive.
We can’t live the kind of adventures you read in magazines.
But we can love.
We love each other so much. Ryosuke is my muse and he says I’m his “better half.” We have bunches of fun together. We hike, cook, dance, work, and love together. Getting to spend every day with Ryosuke is honestly the best feeling in the world – way better than what I imagined marriage to be like when I was a kid.
I’ve shown him the depths of my soul – and he loves every bit of me. He’s confessed things he never thought he would ever trust someone to keep – and I love him more than words can express.
We can’t be that awesome couple, travelling the globe together. We’re not the backpacking type, I guess. But we can be that awesome couple, who love each other with everything they’ve got – and make even the most mundane things, fun.
When Ryosuke was taking care of me the last time I had the flu, he told me “I like taking care of you. Besides, if you were healthy, it wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the world.”
I asked what he meant.
“You’re smart, funny, and incredibly sexy,” he told me. “If you were healthy too, it wouldn’t be fair. You would be the most perfect super-human. So you had to be born with a weakness, otherwise the world would be unbalanced. No one else could ever beat you!”