Already, Japan is worlds away.
Even as we packed our last boxes, distributed our things among friends and neighbors, bade elaborate goodbyes to one and all, I was trying to grasp at something. That fleeting, floating thing I knew I would inevitably ache for as soon as we left.
Not the house, not the streets, not the encounters, but the air that filled in all the spaces between them.
I knew I couldn't take it with me, knew I would miss it; can't talk myself out of it.
That air, you know? That light, falling in between our narrow rows of houses, falling on our shoulders as we walked to the park again again again, the corner store again again again, not aware but painfully aware of how beautiful it all is, even as the flaws are apparent, the loneliness ever-present -- the shoji are lovely, but a few have holes, are sticky in their tracks -- still, it is special and therefore WE are special.
One doesn't like to give up one's loneliness so quickly, it turns out. It lingers, like a vivid dream.
The kids are not sentimental: they are bingeing on cartoons and cereal, entirely spoiled by trips to the Lake and access to the neighbor's pool. It is summer! There are long-forgotten toys!
We return to something so familiar and so comfortable, and it's this I missed all those long months away, so you can imagine my confusion when I glance at a picture of myself sitting on a stone wall in a temple, and even though I know I was crabby that day, and tired, and the kids were bickering, I want to go back there. Just for a moment.
But I can't take what I already have, and so I go around noticing the air here, too -- slanting through the giant maples, plied by the lazy calls of mourning doves -- while Auden races ahead, out of view, and Isla falls off her bike, and cries, and then laughs through her exhaustion.
It's this, it's this, it's this.