Sycamore leaf suspended amidst filbert stems, Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A., 1980
The window has been beckoning more persistently these last few weeks. I pull the curtain open and find myself confronted by the sky, by unfettered clouds journeying past my eyes towards the back of my mind, by birds momentarily netted in the up reaching fingers of the magnolia (its huge buds close on to bursting into Spring), by clouds of gnats dancing in invisible columns of warm air, and by ideas of light creeping across the ground or walls of the surrounding houses, like fish at the bottom of a fickle pool of photographic film. I always start toward these fancies, feeling the thrumming of open time infusing my lungs, drawing near the window pane till my breath fogs up the glass, but something always interrupts… the hum of the computer, the phone ringing, that shaking in my finger or foot, telling me to make the moment real, take responsibility for it, hurry up and bite in.
And so I turn away and settle back in the chair, forcing my mind into concrete abstractions. Projects must get done. Money must be squabbled up. Joy must be set aside in favor of goods passing through the door, to laden the table. Come evening, when the dealing ought to balance into an agreement with rest, the tasks ahead demand preparation. And so the mind folds in upon itself, fatigue lapping up old heat, boring into past promises, and trembling even in sleep.
In the middle of the night I sometimes sit gazing at my hands and feet, or pass my fingers over my eyes, trying to remember what they are for, or how they came to be.
And when the nights are cold, like tonight, I sip mugs of steaming tea, coaxing my muscles to recall the heat of days spent walking. I murmur the names of trees or mountains, attempting to fix the water within the memory of things far older and stiller than I am. They exist outside the doorway. And they will never come inside, even when invited, much preferring the cold to boxes.
Funny how those without arms or legs or eyes know better than to limit their movement.
So I wait for morning, hoping that with the first light I will drag myself out of bed, no matter how frigid the air, and step outside, for a walk. For a spell away from captivity. Out among the fancies, where my hair is as wild as the wind.
For almost a year now I’ve been lurking within the frame of this computer screen scratching words across the light, but only distantly associated with others who have come by this site to read or converse. On Wednesday, however, Steve, of OnMyMind, and I had a chance to meet in Omote Sando (the chic neighborhood of Tokyo where all the coffee shops and people dressed in the latest fashions come together) and have coffee. I was running late from a hectic preparation for a big graphic design project I am working on, and then further delayed because of a huge fist fight between two young men on the Inokashira line, both of them bloodying each other’s faces and screaming with such vehemence that the train conductor refused to open the train door until some security guards could be found.
So I arrived about 15 minutes late, hoping that Steve wouldn’t be too put off by his first impression of me. But he was downright easygoing, with a warm smile and a backpack full of newly purchased English books, which he had bought that morning while wandering through bookstores downtown (Steve lives in the boonies of Shimane Prefecture, where English books are as rare as Spoonbill Cranes). I was still pretty stressed out because of the work and so it took a bit of wandering the sidewalks, searching for (and getting lost) a certain Italian coffee shop that I had been to a number of times about five years before, before I could settle down enough to relax into conversation with Steve. Not finding the coffee shop we decided on Starbucks, mainly because, as Steve hinted, it offered a large coffee (and for me, the attraction of a smoke free place to sit… Japanese restaurants and coffee shops could probably serve well as mosquito eradication testing chambers or mountain whiteout conditions simulation rooms).
The delightful thing about talking to Steve was the sheer variety of subjects we touched on. If I had any worries that we would focus only on blogging, the liquid shifting from blogging to teaching to books to computers (especially, oh joy! Macs!) to American and Japanese politics to white water rafting and backpacking to marriage, children, and living out in the country as opposed to living in the city, quickly dispelled them. Steve, with his connection to country living, far from the excitement of the big city, talked of coming back to live in Tokyo, while I, with my yearning for mountains and walks free from crowds, talked of moving back to the country. Somehow I think we understood a sort of compromise. Both lifestyles have their attractions.
All in all it was an engaging first meeting, and my first through this blog. So I guess real things do come out of blogs, not just talk. And all of you out there are really real, not just some pigment of my fantasies.
Thanks, Steve! Looking forward to seeing you again.
Good night to all those tapping keys.