Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Though We Never Really Met...

I see her pretty much every day, the girl with the pink and white dress. She sits on a low stool, or maybe an overturned milk crate – I can’t see below her midriff because she’s surrounded by flowers. Many are yellow, bright like the sun but fuller, deeper; so deep the color itself seems tangible. The rest sit in neat bouquets, splashes of red and purple and white sprouting from water-stained buckets. She’s selling them, for how much I don’t know. I wonder if she’s had any takers on this day. I wonder, for all the flowers she has sold to the husbands and lovers that have come to her, if she has ever been given any.

I look closely at her face. I do this every time I see her because I want to know what lies beneath her unblemished cinnamon features. I want to understand the thoughts that lurk behind the expression that I can not clearly read. She may be lost in a daydream; but those seeking direction and those deep into the sharpened machinations of their desires sometimes look very much alike. She harbors a tint of worry in her face, though the subject of her concern (if that is what it is) is a mystery to me; it could be herself, or the young girl standing coyly in the shadows. Perhaps someone she knows, maybe loves, has gone away, a promise to return though at some point in our lives we learn that a promise is not something we can hold in our hand.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Remembering, With the Help of Friends.

A college friend of mine emailed me yesterday. Considering my poor track record in keeping in touch with people this in itself should be amazing enough, but this was particularly special.

'When you were in Akita,' he began, 'you posted something on facebook...'

He'd dug up two posts for me from March 2011, when I was in the midst of getting my family out of Fukushima and out of Japan while the nuclear reactors were blowing up down on the Fukushima coast, fifty miles or so from where we were living. I was keeping my family and friends up to date on what was happening, where we were and what we were doing - or what I thought we were doing - and though I thought at the time I was doing it for them maybe I was really doing it for me. Either way, standing at a computer in a hotel lobby in Akita Prefecture, this is what I wrote:

"In a hotel in northern Akita, the boys are being total champs, tentative flights tomorrow to tokyo then new jersey, no guarantees. My wife to her mom over the phone - 'good-bye for now' - hit me with something i have never felt. I am wrestling not with the decision to get my family out of here but with leaving when so many people can not."

My friend's response:

"I am glad to hear you are still OK. #1 priority has to be the safety and security of the kids - but all will stay in prayers and thoughts. Travel safely. Reading you post up above makes me wonder if you just stumbled across the title of your next book. A thought for another day..."

With this, my friend brought back a flood of memories which, while they hadn't disappeared, were sitting dormant behind many others. So add to the dedication of this modest recounting the many good friends who helped get me through.

'For Now - After the Quake: A Father's Journey', is my story of the hours and days following the March 11, 2011 earthquake in Japan.

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