Well, today is May 14, 2011. 6 years ago today Tomoko and I were married. It was a small ceremony that was held in the chapel at my school. I don’t know if it’s right to call it a small ceremony, the chapel seats about 40 people comfortably and we had about 75 in attendance. It literally was standing room only.
When we decided to get married the task began of having to find a place to have it. Should we have it here in our city and make all of our friends drive down here, or should we do it in Shizuoka so people can come by train, bus, walk etc…? We pretty much settled on the latter. One day while I was at school, after we had started looking for wedding halls, I was talking with the principal of the elementary school and asking his advice on where we should get married. He said “Why don’t you get married here, in our chapel?” I was floored. The thought hadn’t even entered my mind. I mean, why would it? But it made total sense. As soon as I told Tomoko about that she didn’t even bat an eyelash, it was set in stone.
Now, the one really cool thing about having our wedding in the chapel at my school was that it was free. Had we chosen a wedding hall the cost would have gone into the 10’s of thousands of dollars. Our wedding reception alone was $20,000, and that was arranged through a wedding hall. It wouldn’t surprise me if the bill would have reached 40 or $50,000 dollars had we gone the traditional route. But, we were lucky. The only thing the head sister requested was that we make a donation to the church. Now, when she said make a donation she mentioned $300.00. In all fairness, that 300 wouldn’t have covered the flowers and decorations they had arranged for us. We talked about it and gave the church $500.00. The sisters did everything and, to be honest, I can’t even imagine how our wedding could have been any better. Everyone there said it was the best wedding they had ever been to. Granted, that could be a load of crap, but when they add that “most Japanese weddings are really boring” it kind of makes me believe them.
So, the chapel had been decided. Next, we need a priest. Our school doesn’t have a Father on staff. I went to the principal and asked him if he could point me in some direction in finding someone to do our wedding. He gave me the name of a local priest that actually lives right here near us and is the priest at a church less than 5 minutes from where we live. We went down one Sunday to meet him. Now, I’m not one to use profanity in my blog entries, but this guy was a royal cocksucker. From the moment we walked up to him he was acting as if he didn’t have time to talk to us. We did end up talking but it was very uncomfortable and as soon as we got in the car I turned to Tomoko and said “Fuck him!!” So, we were stuck without a priest again.
December rolled around and we had some students visit us from our sister school in Australia. A group of 15 or so kids with 4 or 5 teachers. They were at our school for about 4 days and then they moved on to our sister school in Tokyo. Well 2 of the girls were scheduled to return to our school and remain with us for the next 6 weeks. Since I was the token round eye in the school it was my duty to run up to Tokyo and bring them back. Cool, a day off work with a shinkansen ride to boot. When the time came for me to go get them I called the school and made the arrangements to go pick them up. I was given “Father Bob” to work things out. It seems that Father Bob was the only English speaking person in the school. He is Filipino but he speaks English like a native speaker. So, Bob and I got all the details worked out. He would meet me at such and such station at such and such time and transport me to the school, meet the girls, then ride us back to the station. Good enough.
Father Robert Paul Arias Zarate
The day came and I went to Tokyo. Father Bob met me as he said he would. Now picture this. You’re a young Filipinio priest and you get a call from a loud American saying he’s coming up to pick up 2 teenage Australian girls. You show up at the station and what you see is a 6’1 American with short cropped hair, moustache and goatee, jeans, black biker boots, a Harley Davidson T-shirt, and a black leather biker jacket with heavy metal band patches and pins on it. Most people probably wouldn’t have called the police. Father Bob didn’t bat an eye. I hopped in the car and off we went. It was about a 10 minute drive to the school. We weren’t even half way there and I had already had the feeling that I had known this guy my whole life. He was so personable, likable, and funny. About 6 minutes into the ride I just had to do it, “Father Bob, I’m sorry to ask you this, but would you be willing to come down to Shizuoka and marry me and my fiance'” Again, no eyelashes batted “I’d be honored to.” So it was set, we had our priest. And not only did we have our priest, we had someone that actually wanted to do it. Not to mention that he was of the same order. We made plans to hammer out details over the phone. I won’t go into deep details about the plan making but I would like to talk about one thing, the price. I asked Father Bob how much he would want to come all the way down here to do this. His answer “Just cover my train ticket and we’re even.” Well, I loved this guy. In the end, we paid for his train tickets and then we gave him a $500 dollar gift from us for doing that for us.
The wedding went off without a hitch. It honestly couldn’t have been better. All of our closest friends and family were there. Now, we have hundreds of pictures from that day, and I could bore you to death with them, but I won’t. But I will say this, and share one photo with you, We have a ton of posed photos of us together in various stages of the wedding. The one we chose as our favorite actually turned out to be one where he caught us off guard. Tomoko isn’t even looking towards the camera. I had something silly, she started laughing and looked over at me, and the shot happened. We both agree that that one photo shows *US* as we are with each other.
One of the coolest events of the day was when we walked out of the chapel. Unbeknownst to anyone, a large group of students had shown up and were outside waiting for us. They created the “virgin road” for us and plenty of rice was going through the air when we walked that gauntlet. That actually brought a tear to my eye. Our wedding was on a Saturday, the kids didn’t have school, but they put on their uniforms and came in anyway. God love ’em.
I don’t really need to go into any details about the reception. It was fun, everyone had a good time, ate a lot, drank a lot. Your typical reception, I guess. One highlight of the reception was the video history of Jim and Tomoko. I’ll try to get that ripped off the DVD and put it up on YouTube. Keep your eyes open for it. I’ll finish this part of the story with a pic from the reception. Not the best pic ever, but it’s my favorite.
Now, the entire point of this post. To my beautiful wife, Tomoko. Happy Anniversary, honey. Every day waking up next to you is a blessing from the heavens. We’ve been together for a long time, and even after all this time we still spend every waking moment together, unless we’re at work. You are my best friend and closest companion. Thank you for choosing me to be the one for you. I don’t know how I lucked into you but I’m glad I did. I love you more than anything in this world. Matter of fact, I’m gonna sign off this post and run downstairs and give you a big wet kiss. After you read this you’ll know why I came running down the steps at full speed, threw the door open, grabbed you like Clark Gable grabbed Vivian Leigh, and planted a big wet sloppy kiss on you. I may even lick your face like a dog. hahahahaha!!!!
Thanks for sitting in so long, everyone.
Y’all come back, I’ll leave a light on for ya,