words & photos by

Entry #3

What wild and crazy times.

The return to Tohoku ended suddenly, before there was really any time to process it. Like  existing in some strange dream/time void — it was as if I opened up a door and stumbled upon an intercontinental rabbit hole leading back to my old life in Iwaki City, in the now famous prefecture of Fukushima, Japan.

The rabbits crawl down the rabbit hole and Alice follows them, tumbling into a mixed up world and having to make sense of it all, all the while journeying back to what is supposed to be concrete and normal and real.

I crawled back out of the hole three days ago, now I’m back in America. Imagine snapping awake from a ludic dream, going from one reality to the next while maintaining absolute control :: that might begin to impress just what it felt like to return to my old home, and, for such a brief time essentially relive the life I once had.

But in a post March 11 state of mind. I had to return to Japan as it is now, with all its radioactive loathing and fear, with all of its rubble and wreckage, with all of its signs of rebuilding and change.

I punched the time clock at work at 23:35 on a Sunday and a few hours later I was on the way to San Francisco International AIrport to catch the 11:15 to Tokyo. Suddenly my job doing shift work at a hotel front desk did not exist — merely days later I would be going through the same motions as I once did working as an ALT in Iwaki: waking up to a blazing hot sun at an hour far too inconceivable to be considered dawn, getting into a complementary taxi and riding to an elementary school, teaching English to 10-year-olds, eating a contestable school lunch, and having conversations trail off into disuse due to the inevitable clash of time commitment and lack of language aptitude that my Japanese compatriots and I have always shared; all this culminating with a hasty exit out the door at 16:05.

But one detail of this journey back that was markedly different from the original version Japan life. I used to just walk down to street to visit the great artist Ryan Nagle. I just had to follow a little river trail to the east to get to his apartment. But he’s moved on now, to the neon city Tokyo. And since I was in the neon city for a night, it was absolutely necessary to pay him a visit.

Ryan and I worked together as ALTs at Taira 3rd Elementary school in Iwaki. He’s a senpai of mine in many ways, but we finished JET at the same time. He and his wife moved to Tokyo, I went vagabonding around the world. Last time I saw him it was roundabout New Years 2011 and I had just come off a wild three months in India and would up in Tokyo laying low at his apartment, waiting for the Chinese embassy to process my petition for an extended touring visa. (This was ultimately declined and resulted in a 36 hour train ride to Mongolia for a weekend visa run to the coldest place on earth.) It would be some weeks yet before Ryan told me his child was conceived right around the time I was staying with he and Yuka.

I saw them on my first night and my last night back in Japan. Yuka was so incredibly pregnant, about to burst. She said the due date was meant to be Thursday the 22nd but that she thought it would be late. Not so at all. I hugged her and my great friend Ryan goodbye at Shinjuku station and rolled off to catch a plane home. Baby Ameliah was born just last night, at 05:00  JST on September 22, 2011.

The year of our rabbit, indeed.

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