Turned out she wasn't an Iroquai nor a an Apache chief's daughter after all. She was from the Island of Mauritius. A genetic blend of Chinese, French, Spanish and the other kind of Indian. My mission was to get to know her as intimately as possible. Having spent my teens in Tokyo nightclubs, the usual romantic cycle for me was meet, have drinks, sleep together, then say goodbye. I was not versed in regular world courtship. My seduction took longer than anticipated. It was further complicated by the fact that she had never been with anyone before. No rush. Things took their natural course. We were in the same classes everyday. She was very easy going and fun loving, popular with everyone.
Eventually we slept together and quite frankly, the chemistry was not great. Some of it could have been due to her inexperience. Some of it could have been due to the fact - that I as later to discover - that she had been molested by family members in her youth. To what degree exactly, I never clearly ascertained, but obviously, any level of such a loathsome and heartless behaviour would cause trauma and leave scars.
When she turned up in photography class after a few months of our being together with a packed suitcase, I was surprised. Was she going somewhere?
"My Dad hit me..." She showed me a bruise on her thigh. It was fairly nasty. "...again." she said. I was speechless. My first encounter with inter family violence. "Can I come and stay with you?"
This was not in the plan. Not at all. In fact, because of our lack of natural sparks in bed, I was considering notching the relationship back to a friendship. But how could I say no. Tears glistened in her eyes. Those same big, innocent eyes I had initially fallen for.
"OK, for a few weeks. But then you've got to find a place of your own."
Cut to six years later. We have been on again, off again, over and over. She has used those tears (unlimited supply) mixed with emotional pleas, threats, coercion seduction and blackmail to keep us together. Many times she put her life on the line and I had to decide, save her or let her possibly die. Of course, I never had a choice. She was a truly beautiful person, just damaged.
Eventually, there was a new pressure. Marriage.
Never, I thought. She can't make me. It's not what I want.
What's that phrase? Resistance is futile. I came to understand it first hand. Things were beyond my control. I had more power of will, discipline, clarity of thought. But she had the power of emotion and a woman's way.
We were living in a house in Bondi Junction at the time. I was working as a freelance illustrator. She was working in a girl's fashion wear shop in Centrepoint in the city. Life was not bad. We made the best of things. We cooked, watched videos, hung out with my brother - who was sharing house with us - and her family as well. We bought a puppy.
But, deep down, I knew, I did not want to get married.
Still, the pressure was there. Her parents and sisters joined in. Her elder sister and her husband (who is still a wonderful friend today) would come over and hang out and show how good married life was. How natural. I was told her father, a slightly scary man, was becoming impatient.
One night the two of us were watching an old movie: The Birdman of Alcatraz. There was a scene. The old fella, a lifer, is telling Burt Lancaster something important. He whispers it to him in a gruff, hardened voice....
"Sometimes, son, the only way out - is in."
Bing. It hit me. I recall walking outside on my own. Sitting on the fence. Pacing. OMG. It was obvious. I knew what I had to do.
The following week I bought a ring and proposed. The wedding was wonderful, a coming together of two families and fantastic, loving friends. At the church, when she came around the corner in her father's arms and headed down the aisle, the look of happiness and joy, fulfilment, in her eyes - so true and so pure - made me spontaneously burst out in tears, standing there at the alter. If I could make someone this happy, even just for a short time, it was worth it.
We didn't have a honeymoon away, because we had plans to leave for Tokyo, to go and live there soon after. But we had a honeymoon night at the fancy Kings Cross hotel were the reception occurred. The party was wonderful, great speeches, dancing, a true celebration. People spoke of it for years to come. We all had a great time.
But once we were alone, in that big suite, surrounded by presents and champagne, a deluxe fruit platter, the truth, to me at least, was undeniable. We were strongly connected, officially man and wife - but not two lovers. I'd had a few love connections before and I knew this wasn't one. There was love, but it wasn't based in passion, there was an absence of chemistry.
Still, I decided, I would give it a go. We moved to Japan. Found a tiny apartment in Shimo-Kitazawa. And when I say tiny, I mean tiny. It was one room. There was a modular shower and toilet, a cupboard, a tiny fridge and a benchtop single gas cooker. We slept on a futon and folded it up each morning to allow us space to put a tiny folding table and two folding chairs.
I didn't mind the idea of being married. Being a husband. Saying; this is my wife. It felt kind of fun. We both taught English at language schools in Shibuya and Shinjuku. I rode my Kawasaki around in my downtime - taking interviews with art directors at agencies and magazines, showing my portfolio of work. Eventually - just before going completely insane from having to tutor - I was getting enough work to do it full time.
After we had been there a little over a year, things were going relatively smoothly. It was a kind of adventure. Things were slowly coming together. She loved being in Tokyo. For me it was familiar. Comfortable. I had grown up there.
A tradition started. Every Saturday night we would hang out at the fountain outside the train station entrance, with a gathering of local musos. There were plenty of guitars, cigarette smoking, and drinking spirits out of bottles purchased at the adjacent 7-11. We connected with the local misfits, rebels, free spirits. It was fun. People came and went over the months. A few key players became friends.
One guy in particular, a younger chap, charismatic but with a humility, a truck driver by day, loved to sing Elvis tunes. And he was good. Really good. He had swagger. We both liked him. He was a mix of traditional, honourable Japanese (from the countryside) and young Western rebel.
We would hang out at that fountain till sunrise with the carefree crooning group, often.
Eventually, I tired of it. I wanted to go home and read, or draw, watch a video on our tiny 18cm second hand TV. My wife did not want to join me. She wanted to stay on. To party.
Sure, I said. See you later. I stayed up and greeted her return. We slept in Sunday together. The next few weeks it was the same. Until, one Saturday, she did not come home. I woke in the early afternoon. Eventually, she turned up.
"A few of us went back to his apartment. I fell asleep there. Sorry."
You know when you know.
I tried to talk her out of staying all night every Saturday. I could not. The following week she was home at dawn. The week after she announced that she was going to stay at his house. I protested. She didn't care.
Yep. It was over.
I felt a mixture of relief, confusion, anger and resentment. Just like that, eh?
We carried on as usual. A few months later we returned to Australia for holidays. I was lying on the beach, alone, down south, near Culburra. We were on summer holidays with her family. I had an epiphany. I held the warm, white sand in my hands. The sun was bright and strong.
I am not going back to Tokyo. Forget all the stuff, I don't care. Forget the whole thing. I'm staying in Oz. This is where I belong. I am free.
I announced it to her and she was shocked. I was steadfast. I need to go back and get our stuff, she insisted. Sure, I said. She ended up sending it back and moving in with Japanese Elvis. After a few months she came back. I had divorce papers ready. She did not want to sign them. She tried to convince me. But it was over. She moved on to plan B.
She went back. They got married. I really was free.
It had been eight years. From twenty to twenty eight. It was a huge learning curve.
A whole new phase of my life began after that. New friends, new pursuits, new lifestyle, new outlook. My connection to the squaw was released. The new freedom was exquisite. I had paid my dues, come full circle. No regrets, no resentment, I strode forward onto greater new adventures.