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  • Writer's pictureStefan Neff

From Zero To Hero Chapter 11

She Finally Said Yes!

The epic part of my journey began when she finally said yes to my proposal for marriage. She was supposed to go back to Japan because her time was up in Canada. I remember my family was very excited for me, but they wanted to make sure she was the one for me. I was

absolutely sure in my mind that she was the one.

When she left Canada I told her I was going to come to visit her in Winter, that was the plan. I couldn’t wait to see her again and walk down that aisle with her. Throughout that Summer I felt alone, wondering what was going to happen in my life. These little voices in my head were asking me how I was going to get there. I had no money to pay for an airline ticket, so I decided to get a credit card and charge it. I had no idea how I was going to pay it back, but that didn’t matter to me. There was only one thing on my mind and that was her. Love or lust was driving my mind, I wasn’t sure which it was, but I knew something was driving me to go to Japan to see her.

The day had come for me to leave on a journey towards the western skies. I had arrived at the Vancouver airport with $200 in my pocket, ready to go. I lined up to check in my baggage, I waited and waited until the clock was showing it was time to leave but I was still in the lineup waiting for someone to help me.

I finally got fed up and asked what was going on. They told me, “You are in the wrong line and missed your flight.” I was so mad I was in tears. What was I supposed to do? They said, “You will need to get a change of ticket for tomorrow’s flight and that’s going to cost you $200.” The only money I had in my pocket was the $200 I had for spending money in Japan. What a frigging coincidence, to have all the money I owned, gone out of my pocket before I even left the country.

I had to call my dad to pick me up from the airport. I felt so stupid, and then I had to ask him to loan me some money so I could go to Japan to marry Tomoko. I felt like such a failure. I said to myself, “Why does it need to be so hard to be with somebody that you love so much? Why are people doing this to me? The airport sucks. It was so stupid of me. Why me?”

The next day came quickly and soon I was back at the airport again ready to go. This time I asked what lineup I should be in and where to get on this frigging airplane. When I got on the airplane I had planned to get so drunk that I would forget my sorrows. As soon as the plane took off and the seatbelt sign had been turned off above, I was ready to order one drink one after another after another after another until I couldn’t talk or walk anymore. This was my way of dealing with my sorrows.

When I got there the plane landed, but there was no one to pick me up at the airport. I’m not sure why they didn’t come to pick me up, but there I was, so I decided to take the bus to her house, even though I couldn’t speak Japanese.

I figure it out and arrived at the bus stop near her house. I was going to walk the rest of the way until I noticed a car pull up beside me and to my surprise, it was my wife-to-be. She knew everything that had happened, that I had missed my flight. She was so happy to see me she was almost bursting.

I loaded up my luggage in the back of her small car. It was hard to believe, but I had finally arrived to be with the woman I loved. She asked me why I miss my flight and I made up some lame excuse. I didn’t want to tell her the truth because I was afraid she would think I was stupid. I thought if I told her the truth she would never marry me.

I was always taught to be strong and I wanted to be strong in her eyes. When I walked into her house I was finally able to relax. My mission had begun, and the first step had been fulfilled. But the real journey had just begun. There were lots to do to prepare for the upcoming wedding.

I felt very nervous to ask her father for Tomoko’s hand in marriage. This was a very nerve-racking, gut-wrenching, uneasy feeling. Her father was a very strong and dominating force in her life. When I walked into the room her father was waiting for us to talk to him about our special moment. His face was without expression, almost like an angry look on his face. I was so intimidated, so scared, but I knew this had to be done.

He didn’t speak any English, so my Tomoko had to be the interpreter. When I asked him for her hand in marriage, he told me that I must care for her and look after her and never hurt my daughter. There were tears running down her cheeks because this was a special moment for him. All I could think about was, “Is he going to punch me out? Is he going to try to hurt me if I do something wrong?” I was so scared. I was shaking with fear at a level that I had never felt in my life.

I remember he had a rule that we were never to sleep in the same room when we were living under his roof. This was very hard for me because when we were in Canada it was okay for us to sleep in the same room. I could tell that she wasn’t happy with the rule but she knew her father very well, and what he said was law.

I slept on one side of the house and she slept on the other side. But in the middle of the night, I would sneak into her room when he had fallen asleep. We knew this was wrong, but we had such a strong urge to be together. Nothing was going to stop us. I also thought it was more exciting than we had to sneak around and disobey his direct rule. During the day we were allowed to hang out in the same room, just at night, this rule applied.

Her father had offered to pay for the wedding, this was his gift to us. That was a huge load off of my mind. I had no money for a wedding and no way to pay for it. This would have been a huge loss of face and would have spelled disaster for me.

Leading up to this wonderful day I had to practice a special Japanese speech that was my vows. I found this one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I had to wear a Japanese kimono and my wife wore a white kimono. She looks so unhappy on that day. She looked like she didn’t even want to be there. It was like she was being forced to get married or at the

very least, wasn’t that into it.

We had to put special makeup on for the ceremony. It took almost 4 hours to make all the preparations. This was a traditional Japanese wedding and I didn’t know what to expect. I had watched a lot of Japanese television or what I thought was Japanese television and hadn’t come across anything like this.

The Americanized movies mini series’ were nothing like real life. This was my life unfolding right in front of me and it was strange. I felt it was like a dream that was never going to end. I was soaking in all the amazing feelings that were going through me. I almost felt like a movie star walking down that aisle.

Have you heard family and friends watch something beautiful unfold? We all went for dinner after the wedding to an Italian restaurant, in Japan, go figure.

I remember sitting at the head of the table and this uneasy feeling came over me. From now on, my new wife was going to be with me everywhere. I wondered if I had made a mistake. Was this the right move to make? What had I gotten myself into?

We went home after the ceremony and even though we were married now we still couldn’t sleep in the same bed. I was so furious I couldn’t have ever imagined feeling so out of control in my life. Thankfully, my time in Japan was coming to an end. I couldn’t wait to take my wife back to Canada.

The next day I told her we should start making plans to go back to Canada together and she said, “No, I am going to stay in Japan. I’ll come later.”

“What? No way,” I said. “What the heck are you talking about?”

“I have to fulfill some obligations here in Japan.” I could not believe my ears. I had just got married and now we would have to endure separation for who knows how long. I was so furious. I had to go back to Canada by myself. I was starting to wonder why I had even gotten married. I thought this wasn’t the way a marriage should start out.

“I’ll be coming shortly,” she said.

“Okay,” I said with an apprehensive feeling in my gut.

When I got back to Canada everyone asked where she was. I told them she had some things to do before she could come. So, I waited patiently with an empty feeling in my heart actually. I was quite mad at her because she didn’t travel with me and didn’t even tell me till the last minute.

I didn’t tell her how mad I was but she knew. Well, who knows, maybe she didn’t even care. All I could, think about was myself, because my feelings mattered the most. This was who I was, my fears all bunched in a knot ready to come apart at any moment.

When she finally came to Canada I had changed. I was a bit cold to her because when I was in her country I, wasn’t able to smoke marijuana. Now that I was back I was making up for the lost time. This shifted my mood a lot to an angry state of being.

I didn’t want to believe that marijuana brought out my anger. I wanted to believe that smoking pot calmed me down. That was really a lie though, all it did was hide my pain. I think this was the beginning of my becoming aware that smoking pot wasn’t making my life better. In fact, it was making everything worse.

Finally, it was time for me to pick her up from the airport. There I was smelling marijuana and alcohol from the night before. All I wanted to do was drink & party. This was my way of dealing with things in my life, but I still wanted to make our marriage work.

We got back to the house and got her all settled in. I had painted the bedroom and now that she was here we decided to get a new bed. This was our way of celebrating living at my mother’s house. What was I thinking? This wasn’t a real-life for us, this was living at my convenience.

I could feel something was going on with her. She didn’t want to stay here, she felt trapped. It was the same feeling I felt from her in Japan after we got married but I didn’t want to look at it. I just thought this was the life that I wanted.

I wanted her to get a job, so I found one for her that she didn’t want. How were we going to live together if she wasn’t going to do as I asked? Men Are from Mars Women Are from Venus was John Gray’s book right? Well, it seemed to be true!

Then something started to change with her, she started feeling sick to her stomach all the time. I thought it was the stress of her new job. But it turns out that the truth unfolded itself, she was pregnant. What fantastic news! I thought this would bring joy and happiness to everyone in our families.

She started to get so upset with the job, her mood was changing. Yes, she was pregnant, but something more was going on within that crazy brain of hers. She wanted to go to a doctor and get checked out. I said, “What for? You are just pregnant, not sick.”

She got so mad with me and turned on me like an evil possessed creature was coming out from within her. I’ve never seen anything like it. I knew women get upset when they are having babies, but this was too much for me to handle, I felt like she was overly demanding and controlling my every move. You can’t do this, do that, make sure you do what I want or else. Well, this is what I thought in my mind. She had turned into a little dictator. She told me that she planned to have her family come to visit her here in Canada and then travel to California and Las Vegas. I was so happy that we were going on a holiday together. Then she asked me, “How are you going to pay for your way?”

I was so mad because I had no money to go, so I told “I don’t want to go.” I made so many excuses as to why I didn’t want to go, but inside I really wanted to go. My pride said, “Don’t say yes, because you are going to be broke and will have no money to survive.”

I hated her for this feeling that I felt she had put upon me. I thought, “She was so mean, so selfish to not help me with money. If her family had enough money to pay for her, then why not pay for me as well?”

I started this pity party in my head. It was a big ‘poor me’ attitude. When she got back from her holiday, she was so distant from me, like we were falling apart already after such a short time together. I knew that something was up with her. Then the topic of her father came up. “He is dying of cancer,” she said. “He has to go back to Japan and I am going to be with him.” She was two months pregnant and we had only been married for four months. I didn’t want

to accept her leaving me again, even to be with her dying father.

All I could think about was, “Here we go, I’m going to be alone again. Fuck!“

When I finally drove her to the airport there was an overwhelming feeling that I was saying goodbye to her forever. It felt like part of me was dying and I was powerless to do anything about it. As I watched the airplane take off, the grief weighed heavily on my chest and I almost couldn’t breathe. What was going to become of my life now?

In the next chapter, I will share... A Life Was Lost & New Life Had Arrived

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