最近色々難しい考えて、疲れてので、休みたい。

Lately, with so many difficult things to think about, tiredness has set in and made me want a break. Something small (休憩)won’t do it. I need some length of stay. Some staying power. Some gumption. Some gut.

俺の気持ちはーまあーよくなったので、頑張れないで、悲しいだ。

My mood is poor, ability to try gone, and I’m sad. Because of all this. And more.

Chances lost to wind and burned to ash.
A-fucking-gain.

Will I ever learn anything? Can I be taught? Can I grow into something strong?

かもしれない。

I’m trying but it feels like infinite repeat. The same cycle, unbroken, over and over a hundred times until the autumn becomes winter and death comes on quick. Like getting hit by a car. The last thing you ever expect and it happens just…like…that.

Another lie to the wind. Another hairline fracture in my heart. Another broken bone.
One day, I’ll rise above the rain and the wind, but not tonight.

Come the beginning of this new winter, and I think I will be in the old arms of my abandoned home. Have those arms grown strong in my being gone? I hope so.

…かもしれない。

I have no way to find out. But I’ll go ahead and think it anyway.

一年ぐらい前に

「About a year ago」

“[I live] a life of rejection instead of abandon. A sense that in all “good” things and all close friends, there is always a line drawn that you had better not cross. But the lines are drawn in fuzzy logic, and you don’t get to know why they exist or how to best avoid tripping over them.

Illness of all kins casts its long, dark shadow over the potential landscape of your life. And the very thing you fear the most will happen over and over again.

A life of poor luck and bad karma. Maybe in a past life you squandered all you got and these stinging rejections are the universe balancing out. Perhaps, all this pain in place of death is a making up for deaths on end. Perhaps in your other live, there will be love in its stead.”

Approaching the circumvention of a year and considering how I felt when I left places I no longer fit in for a place I did not know. Now, I know this place and long to return to the ones I left. The question is now: what will I be met with upon return?

Home, have you changed? Will you accept the me that has?

私も知ってる?今までどうしたんだ??今から、どうしよう?これから、質問しで、心配だ。もう一つ、文法が大丈夫か、わからない。もしだめだたら、教えてね。お願い。

じゃ、もう終わった。

ちょっと日記だけー

引越しのとき、面倒臭いよ。いろいろしないとー

田無市役所とか東池袋区役所とか郵便局へいかなければならない。保健所はまだかいたないえで、郵便で送る。でも、書くとき、もっと面倒臭いと思う。

もう一つ、自転車の番号をかわれば、どうすればいい?先生は「警察へ行かないと」と言った。

それで、私と友達は警察へ自転車を持って行っても、警察ができなかった。実はみなで日本人が全然分からない。だから、たくさん悪い説明をむらった。それで、警察へ行かなくてもいい。でも、もう二回行った。自転車屋も行かなくてもいいけど、もう行った。DonQuijoteも行かなくてもいいけど、行った。

全然できない。だから、今自転車を持ってない。使わない。友達がもらえない。

あー面倒臭い。

。。。まあー疲れても、今は学校の休みでしょう。残念ぞ。

ーーーじゃ、英語に訳す。

Just a little journal–

Moving is a hassle. I had to go to the post office, old city ward office, and the new city ward office. But, my health insurance isn’t done yet. It’ll be done by mail, and I think it’ll be a hassle, too.

Next, the bicycle. My friend wanted to give me a bicycle so we asked how to register it under my name and address. Sensei said the police office. So, we went with the bike to the police station. Turns out they couldn’t do it. And turns out nobody knows how. So we got a bunch of bad instructions. Went to two police stations before learning this. And then went to the bike shop (but didn’t have to). Went to Don Quijote (but didn’t have to).

And still, the bike is not registered. So I don’t have a bike. I can’t use a bike. My friend can’t give me the bike.

What a hassle.

I’m already exhausted, and this is my school break? That’s really too bad…

Great.

これ、夢しか。。。 [Only a dream.]

I woke up to the sound of wind.

The trees knocked subtly together, drumming out an uneven rhythm, slightly unnerving. Sprawled flat on my back, I stared up at a grey-blue indeterminable sky. Not a cloud I could make out, but wisps of flimsy white stretching a film across the sky. The stars were mostly missing. One, obvious. The morning star or the evening one? Venus — a planet not a star at all — all the same. In one end of the sky, there were pink and fire orange bars of light clinging low to the horizon. East or West?

I would have to know where I was to parse that information.

What I did know — there was tent, no shelter blocking out my view. And no other body wrapped warm and close around me. No sleeping bag. No pad. The air brushed freely across my cheek, which might have been beautiful but my back ached. My head, too. A swarm of questions hovered like hungry wasps, stinging my mind and heart.

When and where was I? Was the sky late day or early night?  Was this wind a storm coming, an ending one, none at all? And had I not, only moments ago, been in a covered place with a friend safe beside me? Had we not been telling stories? Had there not been a fire, doused? Should there not be a pit of charcoal and wood stored under a rainfly? Did I not have a box of carefully picked tinder stored safe under my arm? Was I not prepared for it all?

No. None of these things. Only me in not so much a clearing as in the middle of the path. As if I just stopped, fell, gave up.

How had I gotten from there to here? And where did that sweet, gentle, perfect companion go?

The wind slapped a cold hand across my face, wiping the tendril of sleep away. I blinked myself back into reality, post-sleep daze clearing like a morning mist.

A dream. But how? Had I not been walking, only moments ago, with such purpose?

The sound of the ocean in the distance, much smaller than I remembered. Much farther than it should have been. The trees above my head, I noticed now, were pines. Not palms or banana trees. This wasn’t the island on which I’d thought to spend a few weeks. But this wasn’t home either. It was…

The whistle of a sparrow made me look up. It perched on a finger-thin branch above my head, twisting its gaze to peer at me. Judging? Wondering what I was doing here? Thinking nothing but of the next seed, the next branch, the next breeze.

I breathed out slow and felt the tightness of my chest. Everything hurt. The bodily pain brought me back down. To the ground. To reality. A floodgate gave and in a flashflood, I remembered everything.

I’d come up this way alone. Had, years ago, set out with someone else. And recently? We’d parted way. In the heat of a determined moment, I’d climbed non-stop up this mountainside. Made it, what, half way? Until?

I had not met some dreamy stranger in the forest thick. I had not glimpsed some companion off in a different clearing. Oh no, no, no. I had strictly kept to the path. Not eating or drinking, pushing way too hard in what had become a summer heat. And alongside exhaustion was a sinking in my heart. A longing uncontrollable and mitigated only by the ability to truncate thought with physical fatigue. So, I’d pushed. Harder. Harder. Until sweat and tears mixed, salty saline running in jagged streams down both my cheeks. Eventually, I came to a rough patch. And my foot tripped up on a slip of rocks. I’d tried to catch myself. Failed. Hit my knees hard on the sharp ground. And then, must have passed out.

Which would mean…

I sat up and looked down. Sure enough, both knees were bright red and swollen. As if just seeing them reminded my body of the damange done, they throbbed hotly. I touched the left one tinderly. Pain shot straight to the bone. I flinched and tried not to move. Feeling left out, my palms began to burn too. I stared at the tiny scrapes, some big enough that dirt had gotten in under the layers of skin. I looked for water to wash them clean. No, of course. I had not planned that far ahead. My gear had been left…where?

Never gathered. Tools essential left behind in places where I was certain I’d return.
How far out was I now? Would I even make it back? Had I even considered that? Did I have enough know-how to survive without?

The sky overhead seemed both to darken and lighten at the same time. So it was still impossible to know anything.

I laid back down, closing my eyes. Waiting for what?

Maybe not waiting at all. But simply because I can’t think of anything else to do now.

Split / 分ける

A line like a wall is being built inside of me. Carefully, I’m placing clever bricks — pretending they’ve been fired already, knowing in my heart they are sand yet. Knowing the slightest wind could break my structures apart. And I’d be right back at the start.

With everything and everyone, I start again. Every word, ever slip of tongue. Every hand or arm or leg I touch. Sand, unlike bricks, doesn’t stack and I can only travel sideways in parallel lines.

I wake up in the morning and can’t recall what language my dreams are in. I half wonder if it’s not anything. Just babble my brain is telling me makes sense. That would explain some things.

But, progress. Slow, steady, careful, trepidatious. I tread carefully on slippery stones in a river I don’t know. But the crossing has been done before and so, in this way, I continue on.

And then, this.

There are moments I break through the fog. I see a kanji and know exactly what it means. I don’t need my 辞書(dictionary) to look up the texts you send. I can carry on in conversation like I have some scrap of intelligence. I hear other people’s conversations or an announcement, and I get 95% percent of it. In revolt, my brain tells me I’m cheating. Like, that’s too easy. I have to be doing it wrong…

Brain, you make no sense. Calm down.

It’s the same in frienship.

Something I learned last night was this: take 縁 (en). Connection, destiny, fate. Then, add 自由 (jiyuu) — the concept of personal freedom, an “as it pleases you” sensibility. And what you get is the concept of the connection of the self to fate. The thread, as it were, from a single chest to the whole.

This is why 日本人(Japanese) always leave 10 en (pronounced juu en) at the 神社(shrine).

These are the kinds of sandcastle bricks I am being laid up with. Things learned in strange places peopled by new faces, along side quick and ready friends in a new, steady warmth. Temporary moments but strong and sweet. Like 梅酒 (plum wine) or 赤ワイン (red wine)。We finish a bottle and I can suddenly speak 日本語。And my body just kind of bends against your’s. We are playful and lighthearted and I wonder where that road will go.

You have sensibilities I don’t often find openly expressed. I appreciate this. Let’s keep talking, ney? 私とたくさん話してね。でも、すみません。このままはジーシの仕事か?本当にごめんね。

(Babble, not worth translating.)

But then. I wake up in the morning and freak out about everything. Like I did it wrong. Like, that wasn’t hard enough. Like, what is wrong with me? No, things must be crumbling…

Heart, you make no sense. Calm down.

A Journey, Outward and Inward at the Same Time.

We had run off into a thick forest together, you and I.

We had lost the tracks of others, delved into the greenery, feet-first. Hand in hand, we walked and talked. Following nothing but the shadows of our hearts. The moon rose and watched us from overhead, just a sliver shy of being full. We’d occasionally glance up and glimpse through the mottled branches, the stars of reality. We’d whistle the same song at the same time, melody and harmony.

As we sank deeper, a cold fog gathered around our ankles, drawing us closer together. Fingers interwoven, we moved step for step and breath for breath. Two knit-together souls against the world.

Then, a clearing came. The near-full moon lit the grass in between our toes. It made the shadows recede into the path from which we’d come and the one by which we planned to go. Everything within reach was a silver-bathed glow.

We turned, after such a long time and looked each other in the eye. Had the color of them changed? We shook our heads. No, we were still the same. Two moon-bathed souls against the world.

Against?

Overhead, thick white clouds began to roll in. Shadows like arms reached for us. We tried to pretend it wasn’t happening; tried to chase the light. First here, then there. Hopping around from one place to another. The wind picked up, dry and bitter. We only picked up the pace, like if we found the right place to hold each other, the increasing chill would fade.

But, soon, it became clear we could not escape. So, we stood shoulder to shoulder and braced. Looking out at the growing dark, we tried to imagine a map of where we could go from here. But, we both had to admit, standing there shivering in the wind — nothing came to mind.

Our fingers slowly loosened, tired of an ineffectual grip. What were we clinging to? Something that, in the coming through the forest, had had its use. Now? It was just a remnant of a thing we had needed before. Our arms dropped to our sides. Our legs carried us in circles around each other. You watched the ground; I, the sky. And we acted like that was enough. And it was — for the time.

Then, the sun crested the horizon. For a moment, it blinded us. But we blinked the pain away until we got used to the light of day. The morning sun scattered bars of yellow light across the place we were in now. Not just a clearing, but a low hill top. Down below was the meandering places from which we’d come. The well-trod road was full of turns and twists, but we had not kept to it. We’d cut our own way through the roughest land.

As the morning wore on, the warmth the night had sapped out of us slowly returned to our bones. Then, as the sun climbed toward noon, we knew it was time to go. I reached first for your hand, but you did not reach back.

“We need others,” you whispered and I imagined I knew what you meant.

There was an obvious break in the trees up ahead. You nudged me. I nodded, and off we went. Not hand in hand. Not step for step or breath for breath. But that was alright. We had changed, grown. We could walk on our own. So, like this, side by side with an undefined space between us — we walked.

The path sank down for a long grade before we had any hint it’d come back up again. But, it did. And the sun was warm on our backs. A breeze, cool without being too strong, urged us on. I looked now into the matrices of branches. What I had thought was nothing but a wall of green turned out to be a series of homes to other things. I pointed each new life out. Some even briefly alighting on my hand. My shoulder. My arm.

“Ah, see all the life we’re surrounded by?” I called and looked to you. But you were still staring at the ground.

There was the cawing of a crow and we both looked up. A white bird with black beak and black legs filled our view. It dropped from a tree, swooping low and cutting a line across our sight like a knife. As quick as it had come, it arched back up and disappeared.

“Did you see that?” I asked, looking for the bird instead of you.

“Yeah.”

“I didn’t know crows could be white.”

“Me neither.”

The bird, swallowed by the forest, did not come again.

Silence took its place between us as we kept moving. A while longer and we didn’t so much find another clearing as make one. The climb was too steep. Out of breath, we moved some sticks and leaves. Soon, a resting place was cobbled together from our joint effort. We sat down in the same exhausted moment — not shoulder to shoulder, but not face to face either.

Long slow breaths were a long time in coming, and neither of us said a word. Eventually, I got up and stretched — feeling rested. “We best be going.” It came out low and quiet, in the form of a question.

“You go on ahead,” you said and didn’t move.

I waited a while, thinking you only needed time. Nothing changed. When I was sure you weren’t planning on getting up any time soon, I said, “Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

So I left. Sank back into the greenery alone. From time to time, I’d whistle the same tune. Sometimes, I’d even call out. All so you’d know exactly where I’d gone. And, after a long while, when the sun was low and the evening cool, you did come. Came up by my side by a different route.

“I’m here,” you said and I assumed we’d go along from there together. I was glad you’d come your own way, and glad we’d found each other again.

But, the shadows grew long and the road I had chosen stretched only upward before us. You clearly trudged along, dragging feet, making a cloud of dust. Eventually, my eyes burned from it and I had to stop. You stopped half a step behind.

I turned and we faced each other full. The first time since setting out. Your face and stance were different and strange. I wondered if I, in your view, was the same. I couldn’t bring myself to ask. The words were stuck in my throat, my tongue a cork.

“I can’t…” you started and didn’t finish the sentence.

“I’ll wait,” I said and went to drop into a squat. In a moment, I thought, I’ll make another clearing for us. We could both use the rest.

“No, don’t.”

I stood back up, dropping the bundle of leaves I’d already picked up. “But…” I didn’t finish that sentence either. And not because I thought you knew the end of it. But quite the opposite. Because I guessed you never would. “I’ll go.” I hung my head and looked down at the ground. I couldn’t help but notice how even it was brimming with life.

“Yeah,” you said and sat down where I had thought to stop.

I moved away, looking out at the places I could go. I quickly decided to stick to the same road. It was clearly cut and, in the back of my heart, I knew you could find me if you looked. I didn’t call out, thought. Every sound I thought to make died in the nest of my chest. There was nothing I could say. Occasionally, I’d hear sounds from behind and look over my shoulder. Was it you?

No, never.

Just other things, other being moving around me. A world brimming with life, but nothing in the orange glow at the end of the day alighted on my hand, shoulder, arm. Nothing touched me at all. But in the warm and quiet air, butterflies, moths, bees, and wasps all hummed in patterns above my head.

The orange light became a blue-grey, marking the dying of the day. Scattered clouds overhead began to brighten in the light of the rising full moon. It’s glow washed out most of the stars. I made new designs in my mind from the ones I could still make out.

Then, a loud sound.

A deer? You, a long time in coming?

I turned and looked back. The road I was on had risen so much I could see the whole way we had taken. The landscape was a map of us, spread out before me. Our feet had padded their way through the middle of a wide, rolling valley. I could see the first path, the clearing we had found, the one we’d made, and the place we’d stopped and parted ways. A plotting of our whole story, lit by the moon’s rising.

And not too far from the last place we’d stopped, I could see you crashing through the over-growth to make your way back to the start. The sound I had heard was your departing.

I watched for a while, to see if you’d come out at the same clearing as before. Hoping that if you did, it’d mean something. That you’d turn and hurry along to catch up to me. That in the echo of the wind’s howl, I’d hear you calling my name. Telling me to wait. Saying you’d made a mistake.

But in reality, by the time you came to rest, I couldn’t see you anymore. Only knew it by the pause in the echos of your sound. And knew you’d picked up again by the return of them. The sound of you kept moving further away, getting smaller. I can only guess since you’ve found your own road, you will also find a new clearing to settle in.

I don’t know where that path leads or how long you’ll rest along it when you do. I don’t know by which way, high or low, you will choose go. I only know that in a little while, where you are will be imperceptible. And the sound of your going back, inaudible from where I am.

As Vonnegut said until the last — So it goes.

旅人

[Journeyer]

Originally I had created this word: 出かけている行人. でも (However), ぱわぁ先輩 said this implies something of an alien. An outsider. Not necessary human. This is found in older texts. No longer common. How do I find words that fit the spirit of what I am getting at? Strange…

The funniest and most awkward thing these days is when people (both native speakers and non-) translate things I already know. I understand them better in 日本語 than in 英語 but how does one go about explaining this without seeming rude?

That is the constant catch.

I want to ask for a moment to decide. How do I say that without seeming rude?
I need to know what to do with my trash. How do I ask that without seeming rude?
I’m trying to find a certain kind of device. Will this one work for what I need? How do I do this without being rude?

The weight of “being an American” has shifted. To being a “Western” to being a “non-native speaker”. To being, simply, an outlier.

But the outlier is most amiable when it can gauge the current culture and slip in effervescently. The outlier’s art is to disappear the ugly differences between us and polish the beautiful ones. Not erase both our faces, but clean us up. Wipe away the frown lines and replace them with a mild smile. To add comfort where there was fear. To replace anxiety with peace. To bring momentary insights that will be pondered once the outlier has gone.

The outlier only lives for these momentary changes. These gentle transformations that take place between the willing. In the dimness of a room where things are less defined by rigid lines and no-one feels the need to turn the light on. The mellow subtly of the grey places.

When the wind blows, the outlier goes. Leaves to find another place to momentarily call home. A people to, for a while, momentarily call ones own.

But where does the exhausted outlier go? Is there any resting place? A haven to feel is one’s own?

No.

But stops along the road rejuvenate the spirit, allow it to carry on, ney? Friends along the often travelled roads you go in life are the way points by which you feel safe. The havens of others who make their roots deep. But you are a leaf in the wind. Bones transformed, evolved into feathers that catch the up-drafts of air. Those who have the skill of flight should not stay bound to the ground too long. The legs are weaker than the wings and your strength is in the way you are borne from one place to another.

Do not dawdle, wade in shallow water, or sit by the wayside too long. You will only catch the cold of fear, stagnant emotions that settle in inactive blood.