Sunday, January 11, 2009
I'm not in Tokyo anymore
it's the word I think of when the next big step comes. and tomorrow it comes again. a time line I'm theoretically completely in control over yet, I'm never ready to leave and I always do. something keeps pushing me forward. or something. tonight I'm tired and not really ready to be heading away from so many friends who always try to convince me to stay. I smile. I nod. a lump often forms in my throat but there's something I can't explain telling me the time is not yet right to stay.
It's been a good month homeless. It's been a good 36 days.
I'm starting the count on Dec 6th, the last day in my apartment, the second to the last day at my job, five days before I left Japan. I'm starting the count when all my stuff had to be sorted and sent and packed (... though sure, there's always more sorting and repacking at every stage)
But before that, there was saying goodbye to the kids who have forever changed my life and who I dearly miss.
Then, on day 1 of the beginning of this journey, I took a Japanese test and put studying Japanese behind me. On day 5, I sat in the Tokyo airport tired and too full of emotion to think straight and started studying Spanish. Everyday now, one replaces part of the other in my mind. Most days I feel I will never be bi or tri lingual but just stuck in my head with a mixed pidgin language that few others understand. But the Spanish grows, as the English recovers. The journey within continues much like the journey without.
But before the plane ride, there was a day walking around Tokyo for the last night (of this leg of my life) and admiring the beauty of a city that took me a long time to love. I walked with a friend also on his way out of Tokyo despite wanting to stay. I found this city exciting my first year, dreadfully lonely and cold my second, and by my third I'd made it home.
There's so much to love when you learn how, as many of us do. Some days it's easy to imagine staying forever and others there are plenty of reasons to leave. Everyone misses Tokyo, it seems. Though it's time to leave, saying goodbye with the clear knowledge that what I have right now will never be the same again always breaks my heart a little. Tomorrow morning I do it again. Somehow it's become a way of life.
Then, there is one of the travel conversations with a complete stranger, with honesty we too rarely use, about the meaning of life and love and kindness that with the right timing can change your life. A straight looking self identified Republican, an expert on photons and solar panels, he explains to me about other dimensions he feels he's witnessed evidence for and about a huge benevolent energy that some call god. He explains about how we are all parts of this energy. We are all part of the same soup he says. We must be good to each other because, really, we are all the same.
At some point there was a discussion of how freewill and destiny are not mutually exclusive and the moment felt heavy with the profundity that comes from transitions and lack of sleep. Perhaps we'd met before and perhaps we'll meet again, in that way that only makes sense in the moments you believe it and no others.
And I arrived in Portland, found myself fascinated by the size of the coffee and vegetarian gravy and then slept like the world was going to end for nearly 24 hours.
And then there was a house party with cakes and space that was created solely by the party goers, not by a club or a bouncer or a DJ who's real name we didn't know.
And once I was recovered, I headed down to Eugene between snow storms. I've taken almost no pictures of Eugene because it feels too much like home. The visuals of the town say nothing compared to the stories that wait on each street corner. Once, how thick the town was with history was a big reason to move away. There was too much subtext in every walk, casual conversation, and errand. No event stood on its own anymore and became a web of friends and lovers and many late nights. Now, I navigate the web with caution and new curiosity. It's changed a lot in the three and a half years I've been gone with many people leaving and others becoming key players in the social scene. Alliances change; unexpected friendships grow.
I try to spend my days here listening as much as possible but somehow it often it doesn't work and I tell my favorite stories again. I try to ask as many questions as I can, trying to understand what keeps people here and if I am the same as them. Some ways I'm not, I can't be, otherwise I'd move already. What makes me different and can I ever come back to stay? I love the size of this town and that a bike will take you anywhere. With every dance I fall in love with this town all over again. And yet, I hit the road again.
This Friday we rocked hard with a "Rock Star" themed party.
There's nothing like looking at your own history on the faces of your friends. or so a favorite song goes.
In my favorite dances (Argentine Tango and West Coast Swing) there is a grounding step or a way that partners reconnect between fancy flying moves. before take off there's a moment when you find the ground and your partner and your balance and only from there can you take that leap. For me, Eugene is that place, or at least one of them, that I don't feel I've been home until I come here. And here, more than any place, home is the history that is written on the faces of my friends. It's been good coming home and though I'm sad to leave, I could never be ready to take this leap before coming home first.