Thursday, January 15, 2009


Phone Call from Japan

Yesterday, my beloved friends Isao and Nono called me from Japan. I struggled to speak with them, my Japanese rusty from disuse. We were going to try to meet up in February, but despite all the planning, couldn't find a way to connect on either coast. February, after all, is tax time and taxes will be a particularly pleasant experience this year due to the estate matters in which I am mired.

A funny thing happened, though. I am suddenly craving a trip to Japan. It's a feeling I haven't had since my father passed away. Suddenly I want to be there, to go to an onsen, to eat the food day after day, to hear the language, to move my body in that particular way, to be embraced by that grace, to laugh at all the things that are funny there but no one understands here.

After my father died, I found myself mostly immersed in his world, his interests, and certainly his businesses. I know this is natural. I began to go over all the things that connect me to him: the farm, my grandmother's magical mansion, the antiques, the convictions about music and art. My novel and its themes and emphasis on Japan seemed almost trivial. I would think about Japan or picture it in my head and feel . . . nothing. I would think to myself: was I ever that person who felt comfortable in that other world and its particular beauty?

This is a little bit odd, when I consider that it was Nono and Isao who rushed from Japan to be by our side after my father passed away, and my mother went into the hospital. Isao arrived with his magical cooking ingredients in an attempt to get my mother to eat. I can't think of a greater gesture of friendship than that.

My mother is taking off for Japan today. In her email to me, she said she couldn't wait to be on her native soil, with her friends, and in a Japanese bath. And that's how I feel right now.

Maybe I will go back to being that person I was before--somehow--or, as my friend Lisa would say, reintegrating that person again. It would be nice.

I think it sounds as if you're coming back to your natural balance - here, there, and have a complicated balance, my dear. It's not surprising off-kilter situations affect you so.

Love to you.
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