I feel…alive. I am so alive that being alive is more than alive and I can’t stand it. And it’s not even high, it’s like a me and being here and seeing and feeling, touching, listening, tasting it all and I can’t stand it. It’s like that movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, if you’ve ever seen it. There’s the scene where Jimmy Stewart is young, and he’s walking around Bedford Falls and feeling restless. He meets Violet on Main Street and asks her if she wants to go out. His eyes go crazy, rolling like a maddened horse, and he speaks with passion, with passion and verve, talking about walking way out up to the mountains, up to the hills, barefoot through the fields of dew and climbing the waterfalls, watching the sun rise and being alive. That is how it is, sort of. I knew I was going out; it was eight o’clock on a Saturday, I’m alone of course and not doing anything. Recently, the hot thing for me is not doing anything at all… because I’m always doing something so nothing is an incredible big deal, it’s like playing canasta your whole life and discovering checkers, where there are no cards.
But like I said I was doing nothing, and I was all worried, worried about worrying like, “I should leave my watch at home because time doesn’t matter“, or “I’ll take my film canister of change, because my wallet means I may buy something significant (over ten dollars), but to have no money, I’m sure I’d regret it,” like I regretted not having my pencil and paper with me. Okay, so I made a conscious decision to not have my camera, but I should always at least have my pencil and paper, or my voice recorder, because I was so into things when I got there.
But there was a curb, actually a curb on like Rokugodori, in Minamidai, on a curb freshly made so crisp and white concrete, next to Tokyo University’s feeder high school, and with a steiny, that’s a bottled 334 ml Asahi, and yes! Yes yes yes yes yes! No, because it’s not like alcohol is the thing, but it’s like a thing that you do, I mean, I said I’d stop drinking alone, but getting drunk alone and just having one beer on a Saturday night in summer are like two entirely different things. There are still mom and pop liquor stores like every now and then in the middle of all the houses, areas not close to stations where convenience stores have still not taken root. So I passed one, and I thought about the bottle cap that I gave Rob, the Tsingtao from that day at Waseda, that golden day of sun and riding bicycles, so I hoped that they would have it here too. But no, it’s too small, but at least they had the steiny, because chilled liquids out of glass are worlds apart from cans or plastic. Of course we don’t drink beer from plastic, but it’s summer for chrissakes and so I got the steiny and I connected with the old guy running the store. Because there aren’t many customers, because the stores are always just the front of a house in which the owners actually live in the back, and they’re watching TV back there and all, and won’t even come up to the front unless you make some noise scuffing your tennis shoes on the linoleum floor or something. But he was all so into saying, “arigatou gozaimasu” and I was all about saying it back, and doumo and my trademark ookini on the way out the door. Because I get that. Yeah it costs an extra twenty or thirty yen per item, but it’s some guy with a wife and a dog and running his store and not some corporation with rich CEOs whose children are the target of kidnappings for ransom. So of course I pay the extra and help him out, and feel good about the blue collar bond we share, it’s called ninjyou.
But that was just the start, just the catalyst, because I was on the curb of Rokugo and looking through the athletic field at the high school and seeing those Hatsudai and Touchou skyscrapers all ten minutes’ ride off, towering in the Tokyo sky which never gets dark. The best it does is turn halftone blue-grey, because of all the electricity running through the place. But at that point I was in it, I fell into it like I didn’t have any choice, I fell into the everything that was there for me and only me to notice: the construction cone next to my leg that didn’t light up like the others, the way the warning signal silently blinked all the way down the road at the intersection, how much I wanted it to at least glimmer a little on the fender of my beat bicycle; how the seatpost is at a stupid angle, tilting to the back because it’s so far damn out, because I’m so tall, it’s like almost half the length of the seat tube itself. The little bugs walking on the crisp crisp pavement, how their little wings caught the light of the new sallow streetlight, the tiny little nut to some piece of machinery in the gutter with the dead leaves, and the black electric tape strip and the sweet, sweet bulge in the heel of my right beat Thailand green suede Converse which pooched out from my darling outstretched legs. A group of homemakers rode behind me on the sidewalk, talking about how cool it was today (and it was cool), and I understood every single word, every inflection, and rolled around in all of that nothing on the curb in the summer with the crickets chirping.
The sounds overpowered me, I could pick out every one, I heard with perfect clarity the motorcyclist stoking the throttle as the light turned green on Honanchou dori, I could hear the surge of water in the storm drain nex to me, from someone’s laundry machine two blocks away emptying. I heard the playful screams of a child in a bathtub in a house on the street behind the house behind me, and so into all of it every tiny fibre in my sagging shoulders just being there, I realized, “There is a hell of a lot going on the world, an incalculable amount of things to notice. To not notice all of it would be the most incredible of tragedies, but for me to notice it now is the most wonderful gift anyone has ever been given in the world.”
Yes, I noticed it all, and it doused and saturated my heart. It carried and threw my soul into a current, and I knew that today was again something, something so fantastic I just had to come home right now to tell you about it.