Thursday, August 18, 2005

Slowly I turn...

I had originally intended to spend my last day on the east coast in New York City, wandering the place of my birth. Do a little yoga at Jivamukti. Buy books at Gotham book mart. Drink Brooklyn lagers to live jazz at Village Vanguard. A slice and a canned coke drunk with a straw is of course a given. But I decided it was more important to instead spend the day with Nana. We had a nice quiet lunch on the front patio of her rehab center. When we usually part ways, we both seem to feel that it could be the last time. Today, our poker faces failed us, and with tears in my eyes, I turned and went to catch my shuttle in Waterbury.

I spent the night in a shoddy, noisy hotel near Kennedy. One of the staff gave me a lift to the airport. Wearing a loud shirt unbuttoned to midchest, listening to flashback disco music on the radio, he was doing a mean Tony Manero impression. The flight left early. My seat seemed to be broken. On takeoff, it slipped into what was not a full upright position. I tried to keep my body from being pushed backward, literally doing crunches against nearly a G of pressure. The flight cut straight cross-country. Seeing topography remembered from previous road trips, I could figure out what state I was over. I remembered a conversation I had with a British guy when we'd co-ride-shared a Palm Springs bound car. Driving thru Utah, he said the most amazing thing about the States is that this (indicating the scenery) and the Bronx are in the same country. Today, I was able to see both. I also saw Yosemite, one of my favorite places on Earth. El Cap and Half-Dome unmistakable, as if recognizing the faces of loved ones in a crowd.

Ben-chan met me at SFO, and to the Mission we did go. I did my usual final day ritual, shopping--vitamins at Rainbow to last thru winter, books at Dog-Eared to last the flight. Two films I'd hoped to see--"The Aristocrats" and the latest Bill Murray/Jim Jarmusch thing--were in town but I didn't have time. Instead, we did a class at Yoga Tree, met Emiko at the Phoenix for a couple pints, then a cheap African dinner at Baobab.

Ben helped me tote my pregnant bags back to SFO. A mere 24 hours in San Francisco is too little. Checking in, I didn 't see my flight on the board. Was it cancelled? Plan B was quickly formulated: side trip to L.A., over to Boulder for Folk Fest, then west again to Burning Man. (When you're self-employed, the party needn't stop.) (Un)fortunately, I did indeed have a seat. Ben and I killed time by people watching, laughing at the two cops riding bikes around the terminal. They were wearing helmets. Why? Are they in danger of being run down by errant smart carts? We also howled at the sight of the worst barcode/combover in the history of man. Ben said that the guy must wake up every morning with it stuck to the side of his face. I replied that then he'd look like Wolverine from Xmen. The flight was long but on this post-Obon day, I had a row to myself. I stared out the window, comparing two shades of impossibly perfect blue, and looking for whales. I alternated between dozing and reading, completely ignoring four of the worst films Hollywood put out this year. (Again, how to quantify?) Every flight into Tokyo encounters a bumpy spot about two hours out. A flight attendant was killed here in heavy turbulence in the late 90's. I lay across my three seats, noticing what the pilot was doing to find smooth air; the slight change in the engine's pitch, the subtle adjustment of the wing's angle. Laying prone, it feels like sleeping in the back of a car going over Japanese roads.

The shimmering sea gave way to Chiba. After a long, emotionally turbulent, thought-provoking trip to the US, everything below me looked especially small. The shadow of a jet flew over geometric shapes, rice fields clean rectangles, golf courses protozoa, then grew larger and larger, until touching my own plane's wheels, creating smoke. Breezed thru the airport, slow dreamy ride into Kichijoji. Casa Daza awaited. A quick pat on Eli's curly head. I hadn't seen him in 6 months but he's official been upgraded from infant to boy. Dashed back out and exchanged books up the street at Bondi Books, the owner putting up with my jet-lag babble. His shop is the only decent place to buy used in Tokyo, and he has a fine blog to boot. (Click the Bondi Books link at left.) Showered off the grime of Tokyo's unbelievable mugginess, Doc Brommer soothing but adding a tingling burn to the nether regions. Had corn and tofu burgers with Zach and Dana, filling them in on the trip, but due to the Joycian density of the tale, unsure where to begin.

And not quite over yet. Tommorow, early Shink and ferry ride to Sado. Earth Celebration awaits.

On the turntable: Beastie Boys, "Ill Communication"
On the nighttable: Monica Ali, "Brick Lane"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

what a light you are. your voice continues to get stronger as you recover it in cackles and whispers from the faces and topography you've absorbed in the last 2, 2 months. give japan a big hug for me.