Following People Unintentionally, Summer 2017

The summer has been summed up so far by following people unintentionally. A man walking down the street (too slow!) turns and goes into the same FamilyMart I was going to, heads to the machine I need, takes twenty minutes to buy his tickets or pick up his package slip. It's a package, because later I see him at the register gesturing with the slip to my shop assistant when I send him back to pick up my packages. I look at him sharply in recognition. But he waits in line; should have been faster shopping after getting the slip, you only have thirty minutes to bring it to the counter. 

The shop assistant is a South Asian man named びぴん; we speak in careful Japanese and I make one of those semi-apologetics jokes I always make, this one about how I've picked up packages there every day this week. It doesn't land. The shop assistant at the 7-11 in Shinjuku Ni-chome is also not Japanese, but she speaks to me in English immediately, because (I assume) it's Shinjuku. She switches back to Japanese before the end of the interaction. I followed a man there from the station, but I was actually meeting my friend! I swear! After, we wandered around looking for a cafe-bar that doesn't exist. Next time we go, it will certainly be there. 

Those two old men weren't the first though. One day, I was walking back to my house and I thought I'd stop by the Mandarake on Otome Road (classic Otome Road). After crossing under the overpass, I noticed a woman walking front of me. She was pretty, ナイスボディー, but I noticed her hair—it was the same color as mine in one of those clever highlighting jobs that sometimes work on stylish Japanese women. I always wonder a little at people who would willingly change their hair to be the same brown as my natural color—I always wanted my hair darker. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail and slightly curled. I followed her down the street. She turned and went down the stairs to Mandarake. That's where I was going! I followed, she vanished into the store. I went in, walked past the ridiculous Johnny's section (I don't approve), through the doujinshi, past commercial manga—and there she was, in the back corner with the art books and old doujin or magazine extras, where I always find some real gems. I turn immediately, panicking that she'll think I'm a stalker. I look at the goods section, then at Yuri on Ice, wasting time until she leaves. When I see her step aside, I swoop in and lose track of her. 

After Mandarake, I stop in the K-Books and look at magazine, BL games, books. They're doing some major reorganization (moving?) so a lot of the shelves are bare and boxes of inventory are stacked in the aisles. The shop assistants rush around like little busy bees packing up their gay porn like it's honey for a long winter. I head back towards the section where the BL anthologies were; they're still there. I peak around the other side of the shelf, and there she is, my shadow. Or am I her shadow? My shadow-leader. I pretend like I haven't seen her and rush back to the novels. 

Maybe being alone makes me sensitive, able to find people heading in the same direction I am, able to align myself with strangers. But certainly, definitely not speak with them!