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Better to travel well

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Travelling with Nodame was always a challenge for Chiaki – granted, life with Nodame was always a challenge. Just their normal, professional travelling was complicated and they had people helping them. But holidays? They got few of those and every time it was more complicated.

Just picking places to visit was a nightmare. They could spend hours just settling the continent, let alone a city.

Chiaki stretched an arm towards the ceiling and heard every joint in it crack. Nodame was all wrapped up around him, like a very determined squid. He didn’t particularly mind, the apartment was cold and she was warm.

‘Okinawa? But that’s in Japan.’

‘It’s Senpai’s first holiday in ages, we should go back home!’

Nodame sat on the bed, staring at the window.

‘But you’ve lived in Japan all your life. I want something different. Some place… new’

‘What about Australia? I wanna ride a kangaroo.’

He grabbed her arm and got her close, before she got any ideas and decided to roam across the room like a kangaroo would. ‘You can’t ride kangaroos, idiot.’

‘What about hugging koalas?’ she said, hugging him and kissing his neck.

‘I don’t think they’ll let you hug a koala either. Or kiss an echidna. Or buy a Tasman devil. Or get close to any animal. You’ll scare them.’

Nodame pouted and then pinched him. ‘So what about America, then? I could practice my English.’

‘If your English is half as bad as your French, then we’re screwed.’

‘Je parle Francais tres bien. With some practice, I can learn English too. Tanya tried to teach me Russian, but then she said I was too thick.’

‘If she could learn it, so can you.’

‘Senpai, you’re so mean.’

He knew those words. They were usually followed by whining and it was too early for him to bear that. ‘Oh, shut up. We’ll go to America, but I pick the city.’

When they looked at maps, Chiaki saw efficient ways to get to places, architectural treasures and historical landmarks. Nodame saw recommended places to get stuffed, oddball attractions and weird street names.

Chiaki could hear the sound of Nodame’s fast typing while he cooked. She wasn’t talking, which was both refreshing and scary.

‘Senpai, we need to get a hotel near Times Square.’

He rolled his eyes. ‘Nodame, that’s New York, not San Francisco!’

‘But isn’t New York in America too?’

He started to set the table. ‘America is a big country. Way bigger than Japan.’

Nodame crawled towards the food and started eating. ‘I can read maps too. I just thought we could visit both places. Can’t we?’

‘No, not with our plane tickets.’

‘Then let’s change the tickets!’ she said, holding up her fork in a pose she probably thought resembled the Statue of Liberty.

‘We’re going to San Francisco and that’s it.’

‘Sometimes, Senpai, you’re just no fun at all.’

And then it was time to make reservations.

Chiaki never let Nodame speak or email the hotels. It was a recipe for disaster and she never asked what she was supposed to ask. In one memorable occasion, the hotel manager had actually hung up on her.

’Hm. Yes, we should be arriving on the first of August. Yes, yes, you spoke to my husband before, but he couldn’t do it today, so I called you.’

Chiaki ran out of the bathroom, holding his towel with one hand and pointing at his not-wife with the other.

‘Nodame! What are you doing?’

She stuck her tongue out. ‘Yes, goodbye, thank you very much.’ She hung up and got closer to Chiaki. ’So I called them. We already have reservations for the first of August. You should be proud of me, senpai.’

‘Did you even ask how much it costs?’

‘It’s cheap enough. They give us breakfast, but only that. And check-out is at 10 AM.’

Chiaki called again. She had got everything right.

There were other things that Chiaki hated about travelling that had nothing to do with Nodame. Flight delays were one. And flight delays with somebody as active as Nodame were hell.

Chiaki pounded on the counter. ’What do you mean, you don’t know?’

‘Sorry, sir, we still do not know when…’

‘Yes, I got that, you incompetent fool! What am I supposed to do with our reservations? With our plans?’

‘Sorry, sir. We cannot help it if there are problems. So please, wait with the rest of the passengers.’

He got back to Nodame, fuming. ‘I hate waiting,’ he muttered.

Nodame looked happy. ‘Look, I bought perfume!’ She sprayed it all over Chiaki’s face. ‘Doesn’t it smell good?’

‘Nodame! Now I’m going to smell like a girl for the whole flight.’

‘At least you’ll smell like a pretty one!’

Even if they got to the plane, there was always the problem of how ridiculously restless Nodame got in planes. And that was not counting possible altercations, crass innuendo and complaints about how terribly hungry she was.

Chiaki put down his book. ’Nodame, don’t stick out your tongue. He’s just a kid.’

‘I’m just plaaaaying, Senpai.’

He sighed and then apologized to the kid’s mom. ‘You’re too old to play. You know, someday you’ll have to admit you’re not a kid anymore.’

Nodame crossed her arms and sunk into her seat. ‘Then I’m just practicing.’

‘Practicing? For what?’

‘For when we have our own children, of course.’ She stuck out her tongue again, but this time it was meant for Chiaki only.

‘I’m so happy that at least I’ll be able to counteract your bad influence.’

Nodame gaped and then grabbed his arm. ‘So we are having children, then?’

Chiaki sighed again. Of course he’d bring up such a topic when he was in the only place where he couldn’t escape.

Airports are the most inhuman of places. They always seem used, yet not lived in and an lonely airport at night is as unwelcoming as your mother’s head on a spike.

Nodame made a victory pose and jumped a little. ’We did it! We are in America!’

Chiaki, carrying most of the baggage, was not amused. ‘At least we didn’t get deported. The guy got really mad at you.’

She turned around and took his hand. ‘I charmed him afterwards.’

They found seats and Chiaki was the first one to just fall on one of them. ‘You, charming people? But you’re disgusting.’

‘I charmed you alright, didn’t I?’

‘That’s because I’m an idiot.’

Nodame rested her head on Chiaki’s shoulder. ‘So what do we do, then?’

‘We wait. I don’t want to go around Los Angeles at night.’

‘But I’m hungry! And bored!’

Chiaki smiled and kissed her forehead. ‘Well, we could be doing a lot worse.’