November 22, 2004

Close to the End of Autumn

This is a fictional account of my weekend. For people who want the truth, you might want to write a new version of it.
November 20

I woke up at 7:35am on Saturday morning. I took a shower, got dressed, ate some natto, drank some carrot juice, smoked a cigarette, and met Mike at 8:35 outside of the Family Mart beneath my apartment. I gave Mike my coffee because he looked like he needed it. I like Mike a lot. He is probably the only person in Japan who has made me laugh a real laugh. Sometimes he almost makes me cry (or does). Well, we got on the train at 8:35 and headed off for Kyoto. Mike felt sick at Kyoto station, so we took it slowly. I didn’t know how to make Mike feel better (the same medical incapacity that my mom accuses me of on a different level), but he was fading out. It was a beautiful day.

At the Demachi Yanagi Station (Exit Town Willow Station), we headed off for Ginkakuji. This temple was very beautiful and very calm. There is something very right about seeing temples in Kyoto, for, despite there being endless and anonymous hordes of tourists both Japanese and foreigner, it is very easy to imagine these people away, to be there alone. I felt this way last winter also when I went to Ryouanji, another Kyoto Temple close to the famous Kinkakuji. Walking along the old wooden planks in my socks, the cold making my limbs stiffen incredibly, it felt as though my bones were made of wood. I heard some strange sound, like two logs knocking together to produce a sound that is like waking up from a vivid dream, or like a baseball being hit, or the first press of lips hitherto unkissed. Well, back to where I was. I was in Kyoto, at Ginkakuji. Mike was feeling better after the delicious food we found at Kyoto University’s culture festival. I had some great pumpkin soup. After many pictures of maple leaves, we found a grove of cedars that bordered the south part of the garden on an embankment covered with moss. The thin rays of mist seemed to have been there as long as the trees. I told Mike to take a picture and it came out beautiful. Mine was not too splendid.

After that, we pressed on to the Philosopher’s Path, or Tetsugaku no Michi. Here Kitaro Nishida used to walk and ponder. Here there were more people. It seemed that this road would be more beautiful in spring, or 100 years ago. Mike took a photo of a baby who was affixed on a lollipop. We ate some organic food at a Café that felt like Berkeley. There was a surprising feeling, though quite mute, of restlessness at that Café. As if anything too much like home might upset me? Why? Is it the feeling that I am idling my life away? At the middle of the road (there was a stone), we went down the hill a little way to a temple called Shinnyodo. Here we took more photos of kaede and also a lonely graveyard (my favorite place that we visited, but not my favorite moment), where there was a big burning pile of fallen leaves. I took a good photo of the dead leaves on the ground, which was a lot more meaningful than all the contrived shots of picturesque reds and yellows in the trees. Well, after that, we sauntered back up to the Path, finished the walking course, and stopped at an old restaurant for Yudoufu, a boiled tofu dish famous and expensive in Kyoto. Sitting in the afternoon sunlight, which fell directly through the window, I looked west and stared blindly into the blinding sun. I couldn’t see my food, nor Mike, that well. I could see only the shape of a bell hanging from the roof of a temple next door. Mike had a nice view of the Higashiyama district, the eastern hills of Kyoto, beyond which lies Lake Biwa. I thought, when he mentioned this view to me, of a haiku by Masaoka Shiki which I have been trying to translate. This was my favorite moment of the day’s trip.

A long day’s journey
over the mountains in Shiga,
seeing the lake.

The next stop was Osaka’s Shinsaibashi district, where we went to see Guitar Wolf at Club Cuattro. The show was very loud. I haven’t been rowdy like that for a long time, and it felt strange and good at the same time. After the show, we headed to a bar called the Pig and Whistle, a place I hate to go to because there are a lot of middle-aged, pink-faced, alcoholic foreigners who really look like pigs. We ran into Yuki and Yoichi, two Japanese fellows we met at the show. They were nice people. They introduced us to Mayuko and Wakana. Wakana is a very beautiful woman, too beautiful. I talked with her a little bit, and although she wanted me to stay with her longer into the evening, I couldn’t due to my lack of money and time (i.e. last train home). I wish had stayed. I don’t know why I left. I had no reason at all to leave, to love. She wrote to me by phone once, but, like every sign of hope in my life, I have insurmountable doubts about her writing again. I am thinking of her now still.

November 21

I woke up on Sunday at about 9:45 with an unbearable ringing in my ears. I ate some natto and drank some carrot juice, shaved and showered. Then I met Takagaki-san, a friend from the gym who is Mr. Japan in a low weight class. He took me on an introductory date with a girl Shiori who is sweet but not someone I would consider dating. However, I am week and will probably see her, go out, do nothing, say very little of any significance, only to be lonely again after our friendship wilts away. When I got back, I was still thinking about Wakana, so I went over to Mike’s. Then I went swimming. Then back to Mikes.

In the evening, Mike’s friend Tomoko came over. Yet another beautiful woman, the same experience as before. She is ostensiblly quite interested in Mike, but as I got drunk with Mike and her, I noticed how beautiful her mannerisms and really everything was about her. Accompanying this love for a person I met twenty minutes before was a different reality, the one against which we often are so violently forced. This meant that I was interested in someone who was interested in the other person in the room. Mike and Tomoko sat on the floor playing chess while I sat on the couch, behind them, directly between them. It felt stupid. I think I told Tomoko she was beautiful, and that I liked her. I can’t remember this. It has been awhile since I last forgot something when I was drunk. I have always been fascinated by a story by Jorge Luis Borges called Funes el Memorioso. It’s about a guy that can remember everything in his life. Sometimes I feel like in the deepest part of my soul, I too remember everything, and that is my only gift (or curse). Well, I was very fond of Tomoko. She is something special. Eventually, Mike wanted to go to bed. I said goodbye and went home.


In the morning I woke up at 7:15am and I could barely hear the alarm clock. My hearing is still damaged. I took a shower, my drain still clogged. I ate granola cereal and an orange. I got dressed. I smoked a cigarette on my porch. It is never the same sky. The first thing I noticed as I sat down blinking in the morning sun was the white car with dew on its windows parked on the street next to the park. Then I watched the homeless man looking through the garbage can and warming his hands with his breath. I thought of nothing in particular. The days are getting shorter. I smoked for a while, and then I saw Tomoko leave in her car. I sat and smoked some more. My hands were really cold. After about five or ten minutes, I went to school. My hands have been cold all day. It has been a really cold day. I feel sick to my stomach. I don’t want to talk to anyone here at school. I wrote this blog twice because the first was erased. I wish someday I’ll find a Tomoko, but today I’ll just look for a place to warm my hands, perhaps.


Blogger pik said...

Well, I'll skip over the obvious issue here (although that was a reference so I didn't quite skip enough) to say that I am constantly amazed at your ability to remember the names of people, places and things. Maybe I just don't listen properly. Probably, you're just very good at it.

8:25 PM  

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