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Oct

My Fingernails

It is 3:53pm on Sunday and it is raining.

This whole typhoon season is no joke. I don’t know if I ever been anywhere that endured so much rain so regularly. It has allowed me to get a great deal of schoolwork done, but it has also kept me munching. I have had two cups of rice, an egg, and a peanut butter and blueberry jelly sandwich. Oh, and plenty of apple juice. Yes, I am terribly wild.

The rain has also made me think which makes me write. I am sorry for those here enduring my verbose incoherence.

I was lying in bed early this morning, before I got up to start a paper for school at nine am, and remembered riding the bus to school in early September. I still have seen so little of Tokyo, but then, there was nothing familiar. Now, as the rain pounds harder, I can look out my window or around my room and see what is familiar and, in that sense, what is mine.

I thought about that first time I mounted a seat on the bus’s front wheel and saw Tokyo open her arms to me. I still have yet to find a business district in this city that doesn’t share the singular quality of height, something that my eyes took in then and still absorb today. Look for the skyline of Tokyo. There is no lens with enough exposure to capture the more than 50 buildings over 500 feet tall that are scattered throughout the nearly 400 square miles of Tokyo.

I found nothing intimidating about its magnitude, though. The great cities of this world have never given me a sense of insignificance. Rather, I remember that even then, as my bus snaked its way back into traffic after picking up a man wearing a suit and an unsatisfied look, I couldn’t suppress a smile, the result of knowing I was a functioning part of this Japanese beast. A beast that has acted as home and heart to a Japan that still has a world of mystery for a young man.

The bus cradled my fellow passengers and me through another cloudy day, a theme of that late Japanese summer, a theme that continues right now as the rain sneaks in an open window. I couldn’t quite read my stop in Kanji, but I would recognize the supermarket on the corner. I would mumble some thanks to the driver in Japanese and jump off the bus to watch 98 leave my side for the night, sure to meet me again in the morning.

The universe is littered with things I do not know and will likely never find. The Yagumo-sanchome bus stop on Meguro-dori in Meguro-ku is no longer one. It is that what is so important about going somewhere, anywhere new. You need to see what other options there are in the world, but you don’t need to allow any of it to be familiar. None of it needs to be home.

This is why my fingernails are too long. I have a travel manicuring kit without fingernail trimmers, long since confiscated by airport security for the threat the two-inch instrument posed. I could buy a new trimmer. Surely, Tokyo sells the device. For now, I’ll bite them and bend them. Those that know me will laugh and call it a credit to my frugality. To me, it is a way of fighting permanence. As if when I fiddle with my fingernails, I remind myself this is not home, this is not my life.

But, my fingernails can come with me to see the Goodwill Gate at one of the world’s largest Chinatowns and they scratch at the handles of my bicycle as I weave in and out of Tokyo traffic, the lights of Shibuya glowing on my sweaty face.

Perhaps it is that which most excites me about any form of travel. In this, what I would consider the neo-formable period of my 20 year tenure of relative consciousness, being able to define what it is I appreciate about and what I want in my comfort of home is the most pressing of my life’s objectives. Seeing all that I can allows me to do that. I know I will love my home and appreciate that place the more when I return after seeing a Giant Buddha and riding the bus and hopping the trains.

I am so excited by all that is around me, but, then, something isn’t right if some part of you doesn’t want to go home when your stay is over. I will see something exceptional every weekend, but be living somewhere exceptional everyday. Living the trip, then finding your life. That is how to do travel, or at least, that is how my young mind understands travel.

I am everywhere and active and moving to see, but with all I have done in the past few years, especially this particularly extended stay in Japan, perhaps it is time I take some time to really remember where I am from. Most look for a reason to get away from their home; I’m hoping to find a reason to stop leaving it.

Jaa mata,
Christopher


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