Sunday, June 2



We are down to two weeks left. The chaos is quiet and currently tame with minor disasters erupting in neat intervals. The pictures are off the walls, the cardboard boxes are filled and labeled for shipping and giving away. It is not easy, deconstructing our life. We pull everything out of hidey-holes and examine them for memories and relevance. In Japan, instead of reusing or demolishing a building outright, there are special de-construction crews who swoop in and take apart old places. This is because of the tight quarters (houses are literally squeezed next to each other so that when one is destroyed you can still see its outline on the neighboring house, like a shadow on the wall) but it is also quite respectful to the life of the building. Last week they pulled apart a really old traditional inn down the street from us. It was so big that it seemed to come down in chapters. We neighbors tracked the process, oohing and aahing as each new layer was revealed. So much history, so much work went into that place and now the huge lot is completely bare. Just like that.

This year marks my 16th year as an official adult and in that time I have managed to move 14 times. It is something I can do but I find that I have more layers to peel away now.  I have a million scraps of paper that the kids have drawn on or practiced writing on. I have cardboard inventions and rubbish sculptures. I have kindergarten backpacks, four years worth of report cards, and a folder of unfinished homework. I sort through it, judging it, trying for an objectivity that is impossible with a mother's sentimental heart. Moving so much has taught me that what is most important does not fit into any box. Every painting and baby tooth saved is not valuable in itself but in its service as a memory prompt. How can I predict what I will remember or forget? I would rather be safe than sorry.

I look around Japan in the same way, trying to burn scenes and feelings into my mind so that I can have an accurate perception, readily retrieved. I know that as soon as we step on the plane the distortion begins. Until then I owe it to myself and my family to capture as much as I can in the ratty net of my mind. I can sort through my catch later.


1 comment:

Burffarm said...

Hi previous comment disapperaed, came across your blog (nice!) searching Nagoya - we're going there next week for a 1 week holiday from Bangkok...
Hope you all settling in well to the USA without too much reverse cultural shock, to be expected after 5 years overseas. I am sure you have read the book Third World Kids which is quite insightful
All the best