Just to eat the food
Just to drink the wine
Just to go
-Patty Larkin, "Italy"
- So, this post is not about Italy. It's about Japan.
A friend recently commented that he didn't think of me
as a T-shirt and jeans kind of girl. :) I was entertained
because that's close what I think of as my "normal state",
but this friend has generally seen me (1) in contexts where
I should be wearing fancier clothes, or (2) when I'm cold
and wearing sweater or sweatshirt -- which are often hiding
(1) involves everything from work to dancing, and I get as
close as I can to social norms without sacrificing too much
to fashion; (2) includes everything under, say, 65 degrees.
But I have certain T-shirts that between physical comfort
and emotional meaning, I come back to again and again. Some
of them are so worn and tattered now that I only unfold and
don them for "special occasions". Others hang in there -- or
more precisely, don't hang because they often get yanked out
of the clean laundry basket before folding even occurs.
Two of them involve Japan in some way, which is why this post
comes out in this particular way and this particular time.
I went to Japan in Aug. 2007. Not to go to the Worldcon in
Yokohama (just like I went to Los Angeles in 1996 not to go
to Worldcon). As Patty Larkin would say, "Just to go."
Just to be.
I've lost my luggage in the Tokyo subway locker system;
bought a CD from a band named Hanamizuki playing free on
Minato-Mirai plaza; seen The Great Sasuke and Ultimo Dragon
performing at Korakuen Hall; stood in the Ghibli Museum
wearing my Princess Mononoke T-shirt; and climbed to a peak
of Daisetsuzan, aka the "Roof of Hokkaido".
I've used the Internet to discover the best "jingisukan"
in Sapporo, and Lonely Planet to locate its two sublime
ramen-noodle alleys; stopped over in Tomokomai because of
a poster for an exhibition of matchbox art; experienced
shinkansen and subways, ryokans and train sleeping cars,
but did not try a capsule hotel; and discovered "umeshuu".
I've chatted with train conductors, zookeepers, members of
art museums, convenience store attendants, early morning
sushi aficionados, temple attendants, and more: I, in my
stumbling Japanese, them practicing English eagerly in turn.
I've been to Sendai. I have a picture of the train station
sign for Hachinohe because I loved its kanji. I've walked
the streets of Aomori, provided crazy gaijin amusement for
their police dept., and had to eat a "tako doonatsu" that
my kosher-eating companion bought by mistake while he was
still catching up to me on transliterating and translating.
My language is rusty again, and my bottle of umeshuu is just
about empty, but my expired rail pass is still in my backpack.
For I do miss that alien self, adrift in a stranger's world.
Clad in a T-shirt, and jeans.
So, my Japan: never #1 on my list of places I'd want to live
(that'd be a slightly smaller island known as "the Big Island"),
but in the top 3. Because I never expect to "belong" anywhere,
and I would even tell you I don't like to travel... just to be.
So, send help if you can. Or at least a positive thought or two.
I'd like to go to Japan
So my passport would look used
Just to change my point of view
Just to go
-me, paraphrasing Patty
Direct Relief International for the people and places
American Humane Association for injured/abandoned animals