(March 20th)

Dear Friends,

When I leave Tokyo, barring any unforeseen circumstances, it will be spring. The streets will be lined, as they are today, with cherry blossoms. Trees blooming and blowing pink and white. It will be the frailty of the buds floating, then crushed on concrete, and the balmy air mixed with smoke that will encapsulate all that Tokyo means to me. I have no plans to leave Japan anytime soon, but there’s always a leaving, some day, some place, and my time will come. The thought of departure presses on my mind today, because yet another friend is leaving Japan. We rode to Yurakucho to eat lunch at an underground Italian restaurant that serves a fantastic uni pasta, and she remarked while we were riding, “This isn’t a day to go.”

It was the perfect spring day; the streets, devoid of cars, a steady, warm breeze whipping around us, and flowers being stripped from branches– the loving caress of the wind. In succession, friends are leaving for Europe or other countries in Asia, while I burrow more into Tokyo life. I’ve been setting myself more firmly in place, more like a potted plant than a tree; I’ve bought and acquired furniture, decorated my studio, accepted additional repsonsibility at work, and even, finally, started learning Japanese. My resistance to learning Japanese, a language only useful here, no longer serves me, since I plan to live here for at least another eighteen months.

These last two months have been activity-filled; there’ve been dinners, lunch meet-ups, drinks, my first house party, and of course lesson after lesson. In this fashion, my friends and I have raced into a new season. I often comment that it seems time rushes past us like an excited child, faster and more frenzied than it should, but that’s how it is. Truthfully, it scares me when I look up and see that another month has fled as quickly as a snap of two fingers. (Yes, that’s how it is.) Moderation and balance are important, so I’ve tried to spend as much time in silence and meditation as with friends socializing.

This evening, I left Tokyo on the 6:26 bullet train to Atami, with a transfer at Ito, and another to Izukyu-Shimoda. Shirahama Beach is my final destination. Just last week, I’d taken the bullet train with a friend to Niigata and tried snowboarding for the first time. The water’s much too cold to go swimming, but the intention of the trip is that of reinvigoration, relaxation, and restoration.

(8:15pm) I’m on the third and penultimate leg of the journey, and the sky is emptying itself; huge rain drops pound our compartment, and it’s wonderful to be inside a heated space, looking at glistening platforms, and streaming night. The stay in Shimoda will be short, only two days, but I’ve left my phone, therefore internet, behind, and thus anticipate inner calm. No Facebook updates, no browsing the ‘net mindlessly, no distractions, no  texts. What I have brought on this trip is one change of clothes, toiletries, Junot Diaz’s novel “This Is How You Lose Her,” my journal, and an umbrella.

Today, I was: an idea, an idea realized, a bound thing that skirted the wind, a live thing in a warm place cocooned and surrounded by water, an idea giving place to more ideas, a thing ready for anything. Now, it’s lovely to know that I’m ready for all good things.

fr

Love,

Val