April 07, 2005

April 7, 2005

Today I have finally made time to write a blog. The last two weeks were a seemingly interminable blur of taking trains with my brother, drinking while waiting for the train, while riding the train, and while waiting for many buses after getting off the train (some of which took us too regions in Kyoto we never anticipated visiting). Now it is spring--the sakura flowers are an ineffable sight. As trite as it sounds, the simple process of these flowers blooming assuages the many fears, reservations, and dejections I harbor within me--harbor for no reason other than that nasty "pack-rat" instinct that the human conscience can sometimes inflict upon the conscientious. All in all, it gives me a feeling of lightness to stand outside, see all of my students' faces, talk with some of the less shy, and breathe in this warm, slightly humid spring air.

What did I do on my trip? Well, much. However my second night in Kyoto, at the prison-like Higashiyama Youth Hostel, was probably the most memorable, for a reason that has almost nothing to do with Kyoto, or with the reason of my trip (which was to entertain/show parts of Japan to my brother). After a healthy feast of Japanese style hambaagu (meatloaf), I sat in the dining room by myself reading poems from Robert Duncan's book "Roots and Branches." I was drinking my instant coffee (with lots of artificial creamer) and reading the poems when a strikingly beautiful young girl sat a few chairs down from me (note the entire 16 person table was empty). If you can imagine a diagram of vacant seats, the setting would have looked like this:

X X X X Ayako X X X
X Jeff X X X X X X

It reminded me of the scene in the first Batman when Bruce Wayne eats dinner with Vicky Vale across a vast table (in an even more spacious dining hall). It was kind of silly to sit like that in silence, so I asked her a very trivial question. Then we talked about our travels. Her voice and smile abolished the paltry amount of concentration that I was able to muster for reading poetry on that evening. But the conversation that ensued, all four hours of it, is something far more valuable than a poem, though far more transient and mysteriously beautiful and painful. After a few minutes, I asked Ayako if she would like to sit at my table (seeing as there were plenty of seats), and I offered the seat across from me. Instead she got up and sat right next to me, which was a joy and a surprise. We talked about blackberries (originally a discussion about cakes), about poetry, about music we loved (and hated), about Yokohama, about California, about languages, about old jokes that old men play on little children (the one which started this was the "I got your nose" gag), about life at home, about just about everything we thought of and felt at that moment. Many coffees later, well after lights out, we had to part. I exchanged contact information with her, knowing that she was 19 and lived in Yokohama. After a while I couldn't sleep, so I wrote her a letter that night. Knowing that there is a great chance that I will never see Ayako again, I wrote her this letter and included a small gift with it. I tried to express the wonder at meeting her so randomly and so perfectly on an evening with nothing to do. It is certainly far past melodramatic to say that I fell in love, especially "love at first sight," but this evening left me with a realization of love's reality, at holding something so dear that one can let it go. I don't know if that makes sense to you or to me, but I spent an intense few days afterwards not being able to speak coherently to my brother, not being able to focus on anything involved in our trip, not being able to keep my tears from rolling down my cheek at night (especially with the amount of alcohol imbibed).

Yes I know I am melodramatic. I am trying to change this, or in some way I am keeping it there, but either way I am living with whatever it is because this is me.

Since then, the Pope has died, the sun has come out, my brother has left, and I feel ok despite the constant increase in losses that come with time.

Today's blog, like all of mine, has been strange and perhaps impenetrable. But, that is because I am too am trying to dig deep, as for a treasure or an artifact lost long ago.


Anonymous namasfl said...


i miss wakayama. i guess you're in sakon biru? koyo koko. hmmmmm...good school. stay a while. you're young, even though you may not feel like it. should you rush such an oppurtunity to live in a country and experience the culture with a decent paying job for relatively little work. oh, that's right, you only have about another 50 or 60 years to go. better get a move on it. slow down. by the way, the blog's ok but let me know how life at in wakayama-shi is. do people still go to the bird bar? is yaichi still down the street. best damn sushi ever. give me a line.

6:18 AM  

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