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Pebbled paths, a drizzled expedition, and being alone

When I found my apartment on Google Maps, I noticed that I’m not far from a wooded area, and made up my mind to go check it out on a day off. Today I rode out to find it, and eventually did. I got side-tracked by a brilliant roof (a tiny local shrine, it turns out), and after riding up a couple steep hills, and walking my bike the rest of the way in a sudden drizzle, I found the foot of two paths leading into a forest. I took the narrow, rougher path, and thought myself something of an adventurer. It was pebbled at first, but luckily became overgrown quickly by the forest.

The trees were tall and regular, as though they were planted by humans, growing close together and blocking out the glowing sun that took turns hiding behind the clouds and staring at me. They didn’t seem more than 30 or 40 years old (but seriously, wtf do I know about the age of a tree just by looking?), and one had fallen over across the path, pushing a few other trees away and showing the ground to the sky, creating a natural spotlight that I thought would be neat to walk through until I got rained all over as I stepped over the fallen trunk and into the soft, clean light where plants grew verdant and lush, soaking in the only sun in sight.

chestnut-20115-400x250Open chestnut pods were strewn about, emptied by local animals whose paws are small and tough enough to get past their prickly exterior. I attempted to pick one up and was skewered several times at once.

Finally, I happened upon a large community garden with a gravel path down the middle and a view of the city, and felt thankful for the uphill push that brought me up the hill. One part was fenced off with a quaint wooden fence decorated with birdhouses, surrounding a 4’x10′ area with a little gravel path going in a right-angled U shape, with plants on either side, the tiniest personal garden designed to be walked through and enjoyed I’d ever seen. I attempted to call Nicholas, Jon and my dad, but the rain was coming down hard, and I lost the signal when I stepped into the treeline. I ate chestnuts and wandered back through the dark forest, stepped over the fallen tree, under the blink of sky that stared boldly at the opportunistic foliage, and waited out the rain under a tree. In my orange shirt and teal sneakers, I took a bite of the yellow apple I brought. As I surveyed the little path leading back to my bicycle through rain-flecked glasses, my solitude was finally a gift.

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My chronological crutch

A lot has happened since I stopped updating this blog. I’ve landed a job teaching ESL at a university, basically a dream job. I’ve traveled for another project I’m shocked and thrilled to be a part of. I’ve fallen out and back in love. I’ve torn up roots and put new ones down. What’s known and comfortable has come rushing back in a storm of whirring airplane engines and apartment searches, quiet nights spent alone in my first roommate-less place in LA, the dripping Spring Tides of loss upon entering a familiar space. The things that were here before are still here, and a part of me that was in constant motion has finally come to something resembling a state of rest. It gives a false new sense of confidence with which I find myself more and more at ease.

Regardless, I’ve neglected to document these things for several reasons: I got lazy, I got busy, I got both (living in Japan was all the excuse I needed). Once I came back, the guilt of leaving early with so little notice repelled me from that little notebook that held my Honshu life with such quaint efficiency, and I just couldn’t bring myself to recount it with detail. But I owe it to myself. My time there was nearly always beautiful, and beauty of that magnitude and consistency is worth my while.

Putting everything down in the order in which it happened seemed very important to me, and this time-sense has also contributed to holding me back from documenting my life in real time. I’ve been obsessed with chronology, everything in the right order, or else who knows what? Something awful, definitely. But there’s something to be said for time and its effortless gait, over which I pretend to have any grasp by putting things in the right order, or else, as I’ve said, who knows what would happen? Something awful, probably.

I’ll start again, now. Sorry, past self. I know you did your best. I’ll stop talking shit about you now. Probably.

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