Another light is on across the way. I suspect a new baby is involved. It is 3 am. Wind rattling plastic is my culprit. There is something going on in the garage of the apartment across the way. There are bright lights on there too. Jack hammering has been the background noise for last few days. It is loud in my apartment so I can’t imagine what it must sound like in theirs.
Across the river the festival lights are dimmed. Half of the red and white canvas has already been taken down. Ohanami matsuri, cherry blossom festival, is officially over. The trees are a fresh green after shedding their pink. Blossoms litter the ground, giving us that love them so, one last experience. The carnival people will take a week to break down the stalls and roll up the lights. I am thankful for this. I need the time. I need the time to say goodbye.
Without any fanfare, counting has changed. Its no longer about the first time we did this or how long we have been here. Now it’s the last time, and days before we leave Japan. The background of our timeline is about to change, again. This has put my senses on high alert. Savoring every encounter, squirreling it away for winter when I will need it.
The day before we had torrential rains. It scrubbed everything clean. It finally washed away my dishcloth off the neighbor’s roof. You see when I first got here, laundry was one of the more awkward things to do. It was too hot to use the dryer. They hang their clothes on hangers and hang that on big poles. A rectangle shaped frame with attached clothes pins are used for small things. At the time I thought I could just hang my few things over the pole skipping the tedious clothes pinning. To my horror, they all ended up on the floor. Except for one piece had landing on my neighbors tile roof. It was then I realize there is always a breeze this high up.
I can hear two men talking. It’s so different than how women talk. The tone, the rhythm, the cadence is low and strong. I think its coming from the garage. Maybe workmen are getting ready for the day. This window has brought the world to me. When I first got here I would hear children in the afternoon. I couldn’t figure out where the sound was coming from. The view was so foreign and strange I perceived nothing. Slowly I came to see the community from my window.
Another light is on across the way. I am sure it is a mom getting breakfast and bentos started. I wonder if she is making tea or coffee. Toast or miso soup. The talking has stopped and a man is now pushing his bicycle up the steep ramp out of the apartment. It is actually a road. I know this because once a van got stuck turning into it. I was just leaving my apartment and had just crossed the road. A sickening sound, that only metal against metal can make. Instantly traffic is backed up. No one seems interested but me. Like I child, I stood there and watched the gruesome extraction of a shiny vehicle from railing.
The moon has moved into my line of sight. Innocuous clouds reflect its beautiful light. I can’t help but think of my friend, Robin. She taught me to notice the moon. We became Facebook friends after I moved over here. After her many posts of moons, I started adding my own. IWe were in Germany visiting my son, Greg. We were walking home and the moon was so beautiful. Looking up, here was one dot connecting us all together. The thought tethered me. No matter where I was, together we see the moon. Robin taught me to look up, feel connected. She is no longer viewing the moon from down here, but I feel her every time I pause and look at the moon.
In a few short months, I will reenter American culture. Physic tells me that with every action there will be a reaction. Like a spacecraft reentering the earth’s atmosphere, I will have to make space for myself. I have seen enough space movies to know what that entails. There is burn off, breaking away, and landing.
The other day I had a weird sensation. We were coming home from a visit to Singapore. As we walked through Japanese customs, there was this overt “oh shit, this is a foreign country” reaction in my body. It caught me off guard. I consider Japan my home. Or should I say did. Is my body acknowledging a reality before my mind does?
The black of night is turning to the blue of day. Nice and slow. The streetlights aren’t so bright. I can now hear the train. Another apartment light is on. The men are talking again. A taxi driver stops and drops off a man, who is now walking down the ramp. Is this the walk of shame my sons joke about? In a few minutes I will be turning on the lights. We are definitely having coffee.