+ What's On: Secret Garden, by Gackt
Let me tell you about one of the greatest weekends of my life.
Years and years ago, when my obsession with Japan was in its earlier stages, when Japan was nothing more than anime and JPOP and "where I was born", I learned of a singer named Gackt, a beautiful man with a god's voice. I listened to his music, understanding not a single word, and loved him. My sister and I talked about learning Japanese, talked about running away to Japan, talked about a perfect life in a perfect place. We would know we were living the dream the day we saw Gackt in concert in Japan.
We were kids; forgive us.
2004, I move to Nagoya for my year of study abroad. Fellow exchange student Jeena and I are having trouble making Japanese friends. We join the kyudo (archery) club. It's not at all what I expect—what was I expecting? I can't speak enough Japanese to connect with the rest of the club, I'm horrible at archery, and it's time-consuming as hell. But it's glorious in the same breath, the swish of the hakama against a polished wooden floor, the sturdy weight of a six-foot bow in my hand. I love every moment of it. I even harbor a mad crush on the vice captain of the club.
The club goes to a competition. Jeena and I don't compete, but we decide to go along. I stuff a chunk of money in my wallet for no real reason. I spend most of the time at the competition helping the others with their English homework. I half-expect things to be as crazy dramatic as a manga would make them. It's not dramatic at all. No underdog victories, no tense confrontations, no floating sound effects or injuries to overcome. Just straightforward archery. Beautiful and boring in the same breath.
Except on the walk from the train to the site, we pass an arena, and in the arena parking lot is a bus.
Oh, god, lovies, oh god.
I spend half the competition texting other exchange students about it. Afterward I wave the team off at the train station and wait, occasionally approached by a scalper. I tell the guy I have friends coming, and he promises to keep three tickets for us, whichever three are closest together. The best he has are 2 seats together and one alone down a section. I take the lonely ticket.
And that night, I see Gackt in concert.
A couple hours after wearing a hakama and watching my club compete, I'm standing in an arena in Nagoya, Japan, watching Gackt sing. Taiko drums and fire and lights and the crowd screaming and begging for more. The next night I go back, pay almost $200 for another ticket, and see it all over again.
These days I rarely listen to Gackt. Not because I've outgrown his voice, not because I've discovered new favorite bands, but because Gackt means too much to me for me to listen to him casually. At best, it's distracting, because I start daydreaming of Japan. At worst, it's absolutely heartbreaking, knowing I had it and lost it.
The day I was accepted to the study abroad program, I learned to believe in luck, because my application was so last-minute as to be offensive.
That night I learned to believe in dreams.
Even when we've forgotten about them, even when we've shrugged them off as flights of fancy, they remember us. And sometimes, they really do come true.