I clearly remember the New Year’s Eve. I'm alone, in a room in Nakano Shinbashi, waiting for my boyfriend to come back.
He was a clerk at a “rejuvenation” massage parlor when we first met. His job changed through the year, from an escort service delivery driver to a motorbike messenger to a construction worker. Despite all the hard work it was difficult to cover ¥120,000 rent with day jobs. We eventually fell behind. Debts snowballed. The owner had already warned he'll kick us out unless we pay the rent by the yearend. We were cornered.
On the evening of December 31st he went out saying he'll make some money in Kabukicho. Half asleep in bed, I was surfing TV. It was just an hour until the end of the year. I imagined him running around Kabukicho. It was the silent and cold night.
Awakened by noise, I found him at home with ¥100,000 in his hand. “I borrowed this from Jiro. He was so kind.” Somehow I felt like sobbing.
“Let’s go out for Hatsumoude [traditional New Year's shrine visit]” he said with a glass of shochu-and-water in his hand. “No,” I replied, “the motorbike drives you crazy. I don’t wanna go out with you anymore.”
I knew he was teetering on the edge, driving through red lights, as the year's end was approaching.
He threw over his helmet, storming and shouting around, unsure even for himself whether he was still sane or has gone mad. He bursted out. I packed my belongings. If only he could punch me—I felt deep down. I laid on a sofa waiting for the dawn.
On the morning of January 1st, thanks to sleeping pills and alcohol, he was peacefully asleep. I was sitting on the bed when his phone buzzed a short message. I was not his only girlfriend. It was a bar hostess of a nearby mature-lady cabaret.
It read: “The fire of life is dying.”
“What does she mean?!” [I thought]
I looked at the message, grabbed my bulky luggage and left the room. Everything shone in the morning sun.
That's all I can tell about my love affairs. My photographs are my life. He was my photography. That was the end. I must make next series to live on. I don't know if I can make it, or not, yet.
All photos © Momo Okabe