When I left Japan last week, I was an established regular at the Ruby Room Tuesday Open-Mic. Here I shared the stage with beat-boxing virtuosos, amateur girl groups, international MCs, and loop-pedal composers, plus the usual abundance of acoustic singer-songwriters. This video is from my farewell performance; it features my good friends Tomo and Rob.
I actually met Tomo at the Ruby Room the first time I went there. I must have looked lonely, because he walked right up to me and started talking. We met up over the weekend and played obscure Beatles songs, and the next week took the stage at the Open-Mic. Six months later, I am gone. The words make the time look short, like maybe I shouldn’t even use phrases like “established regular” and “good friends.” Wasn’t I really just a passerby? Maybe, but it didn’t feel that way when I was there. It felt normal; I was just another man with a guitar and a couple buddies. I showed up after work in my half-buttoned dress shirt and nodded to the bartender for a beer. That was always my favorite feeling while abroad: feeling normal. The Ruby Room was eccentric and unpredictable, but it made me feel normal.