When I first arrived in Japan back in 2004, my identity was comprised of three major components: I was an African-American, a New Yorker and an aspiring wordsmith.

If someone had told me — as I stood on the international-limbo side of immigration at Narita airport, drawing my inaugural breaths of Asian air — that in 10 years’ time I would no longer identify myself by any of those attributes without feeling either overly modest, hypocritical or downright deceitful, I would have said, “Wow, so this is your thing: peddling prognostications to strangers in airport terminals?” before telling him how ludicrous his prediction was. Such was the state of my dignity in being of African descent; of my pride at being infused with that “I’ll make it anywhere” credo Sinatra crooned that New Yorkers were uniquely gifted with; and of my confidence that once I settled in and got my sh-t together, that I’d write something noteworthy, if not great. I was that cocksure.

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