Tuesday, September 28, 2010

a day with wings

i think sometimes i believe i'm perfectly happy until a dazzling fall day like today, warm and breezy with dotted white clouds, blows the clutter and stuffiness from my mind. the summer haze, the summer heaviness has finally lifted, and i feel light and full of energy. i head to the gym on my bike, taking my time and letting the wind swirl my hair around. i stop to snap yet another picture of the rice field by my house. i don't know why i have such an obsession with this particular field; i'm sure the proximity has something to do with it. the neighbors must think i'm crazy with how much i ogle it. right now the rice heads are growing heavy and beginning to bend as the leaves turn from brilliant green to yellow.

i'm disappointed to realize the sycamores lining the street have been trimmed back to nubs before they could drop their leaves. they still smell faintly like the sweet "honeydew" that coats their leaves, a smell that takes me back to childhood visits to tlaquepaque in arizona, where huge, smooth-barked trees grow slowly through the adobe walls of the courtyard. i'm gawked at by some oldsters on incredibly squeaky one-speeds. it's no wonder they can't hear me coming over their own bicycles. after four years in japan i'm still conspicuous, and i still don't mind. i have to try a lot harder to stand out in the US, but with the lolita dresses i'm bringing back with me, i shouldn't have aaaany problems there. *grin*
as i ride through the shadowy, aging shōtengai (shopping arcade), i smell one of the particular mixes of scents that has come to mean old japan in my mind: mothballs and cigarette smoke. i emerge back into the light in front of masumida shrine and go around the corner past the burning incense to the gym. as i park my bike, i think about skipping the gym. it just seems too nice to go inside, but i need the exercise, so i do. i greet the front desk ladies with, "great weather, huh?" and they say in unison, kimochii! which means, "it feels good!"
the gym has a couple old guys and me, but as i'm stretching, a girl with a long, beautiful ponytail shows up. i smile to myself; i recognize her. i've nicknamed her "Thumper" because she runs like she's trying to wake the whole block with her pounding footfalls. it amuses me to see the old men start to stare as she thumps heedlessly on. after a good run alongside Thumper, i meander down the street and decide to stop for a japanese sweet or two. i've been to this shop a few times, and the owner's son, who's probably in his late 30s, acts like he's about to fall over from excitement when i'm there. he hovers nervously, eager to explain what anything is. i decide to get a black sugar (molasses-ish) sweet and a chestnut one.

finally i ride down the dilapidated alley past rumour burger--a restaurant name i find fascinating but mildly disturbing--and fly home.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

memorize my number; that's why I got a phone!

it's the morning after a typhoon rain which has finally started to weaken this summer's brutal heat. for weeks the temperature has crept up past the predicted high almost every day, so to finally wake to cool, fresh air has changed my frame of mind completely. suddenly i feel the irresistible urge to knit. the craving for autumn foods like pumpkin and chestnuts has also kicked in. the air is washed clear, and the sunlight feels cozy rather than miserable. i'm looking forward to many cups of tea and writing lots of letters. i don't think i've ever been more excited for fall. the smoky, rainy smells make me rapturous.
this fall is bringing big changes, too. after four years of enjoying the rhythm of life here, i've finally decided to move myself back to the lower 48. i don't exactly know where home is, but it's somewhere where i can speak to a doctor in my own language, read a whole menu without using a dictionary, and see my mom without 24 hours of international travel. ultimately i'm leaving for my future, but it doesn't feel like i'm going towards anything yet, which would be a lot easier. i'm not heading to school, i don't have a job lined up, and i don't even really know where i want to live. i do however know that i can't figure those things out from here; i need to be in it.
i already know leaving is going to be heartbreaking; i'm leaving the place where the current me was made. i came knowing only one person and no japanese. i'll be leaving with many dear friends, a place that feels like my hometown, and a language i learned organically from the people around me. i can hardly imagine what it will be like to live in america again; it feels like a barely-remembered dream. in some ways the idea terrifies me. what if i hate it? what if it's annoying to know what people are saying all the time? i'm afraid i'm going to feel lost for awhile, but i'm prepared for that, i guess.
one thing that did get me excited about coming back was an internship offered at etsy; it's literally the only job description i've ever read and thought, "omg! me; that's meant for me!" but...they took down the job link by the time i finished writing my cover letter. i sent it anyway. i felt like i wrote with my own blood, i was so determined to communicate my excitement and suitability. i wasn't about to scrap it for anything. i did a lot of research about etsy while mulling over my cover letter, and it only made me more excited when i found out how it got started by a guy about my age (he makes furniture) who wanted people all over the world to be able to buy and sell from each other and have meaningful interactions via the internet. handmade goods and the internet: two of my favorite things! hopefully i will hear something from them soon.