My 7 AM
essay, Jun. 2019
It’s at 7 am when I stop a snooze for the second time, kick off a blanket and get out of bed.
Last year, I left, or more to say, “escaped” from Kanagawa, where I’d lived for three years. I moved to Nara, my hometown.
Since then, I cook every morning for a lunch box to save money.
…Well, saving money is probably just an excuse for myself. Maybe, I just want to improve my self-esteem by getting up early and cooking for a lunch box.
Or maybe, I just want to accept myself, who can “live alone all by myself.”
The reason I originally left Nara, the west side of Japan, and moved to Kanagawa, the east side of Japan, was because I had a fiancé living there. We’d been together for many years, and at that time, I had no doubts about sharing life with him forever.
However, last spring, just before getting married, he left me, saying, “I want to live in work.” At the same time, I lost my reason for living in Kanagawa.
“You are the one who can live alone all by yourself.”
This is the last word he said to me. What a hackneyed phrase. The hole he created in my heart filled with an indescribable feeling—close to sadness or chagrin.
He said he would devote himself to work, but he actually started dating a new girlfriend. She might be a woman who would be pretty and dependent and need a partner to live (1).
I wanted to live with him, but I could never conform to the stereotypical traditional woman’s role.
Instead, I want to be stronger and more responsible for my life, and making a lunch box for myself every morning was like a symbol of such a person for me.
I already put millet rice, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and last night’s leftover dinner in the lunch box. Oh, don’t forget “Nara pickles” ─ our local vegetable pickles in sake-kasu, the sediment left over from sake.
Every morning I cook a Japanese omelette, called Tamago-yaki. I mix a couple of eggs, put a third of them in the square-shaped pan and roll it carefully. I repeat this twice more.
Compared with fried eggs or scrambled eggs, a Japanese omelette is more difficult to cook and requires more time. When I came back to Nara, I was so bad at cooking it, but now, I can cook beautiful Japanese omelettes easily.
So now, I feel like I could accept myself and finally get over breaking up with him.
After I make the lunch box, I start to do makeup while eating a piece of toast.
I have an appointment with my client today, so I pick up the brightest red eyeshadow of three. When I meet my clients or friends, I always choose a bright, beautiful color.
Now my iPhone in my ATAO tote bag tells me it’s time to leave. Oh, I haven’t finished my makeup. Just putting on the red eyeshadow, I pick up red lipstick and rush out the door.
While waiting for a traffic light in my car, I put the lipstick on using the rearview mirror. That’s when I finally noticed the clear blue sky with no clouds.
I’m not good at make-up, but surely I will get better as I did with a Japanese omelette. Somehow, my morning routine gives me confidence and lets me become the person I want to be.
I look at my bright lips in the mirror and grin a little bit.
1. Traditionally, women in Japan are supposed to be obedient and dependent on men, and sacrifice their own careers or aspirations to support a man’s career. Today, although there is still some pressure to conform to the stereotype of this traditional role of women, women now have modern role models that are independent, strong, and financially self-sufficient.