It has been a month since I moved to Tokyo and settled into this neighborhood. The new apartment, big, bright, with space to stretch and sit alone if I want while sharing it with my partner M., offers the possibilities of moving on with my life and finding some satisfaction with what I want to do and with social interaction with people. The neighborhood itself is green and tranquil, with a strong sense of community that I hope I can eventually tap into. Right outside the apartment there are entirely too many people passing by and right across the street we discovered a metal cutting factory that we hadn’t realize was there, but if we can set up this place with all the plants and artwork and simplicity that we’ve both been seeking to make a big part of our lives, and also invite people over for dinner parties and gatherings, then maybe those drawbacks can be offset by the pluses. I may actually grow to like a place for a change, in spite of being in Tokyo.
It’s taking some getting used to living with a sick 17 year-old Shi Tzu dog named Lan (from Georgio Casellato Lamberti… as M. named him… a big name for a small dog, who has never barked, let alone sing!) who is also blind and deaf, and has difficulty using his hind legs. He has adopted the habit of crapping all over the apartment, wherever his presence has not yet been felt, his attempt at creative expression in new and untried ways. Other than that he just sleeps and eats and nothing else is very important in his life anymore. I personally don’t care much for getting up in the middle of the night and stepping in his contribution to prosperity, so he and I are taking our time forgiving one another’s shortcomings.
In my whole life I had never taken so long to get over someone who hurt me as with Y. Even now, four months later, I occasionally wake up from bad dreams of her or feel my face wet from crying in my sleep. I found out some things recently that altered my point of view of the entire period I spent with her and my respect for her. And for the first time in my life I never again want to see or hear from someone that I loved. Perhaps she is too blind to realize how she affects those she gets into relationships with, but I realize now, viscerally, why her former husbands hate her now and never want to talk with her again. How sad and wasteful. I have never thrown away photographs or letters or items given to me by those I was with, but I guess there is a first time for everything.
Half my belongings are still in boxes, but slowly I am finding places to put things and to start cleaning up and making the place look a little nicer. I’ve taken quite a few walks in the neighborhood, some alone, some with M., and we are both getting to know what the place has to offer. Today I dropped by a small café called Genro, whose owner has actively championed the use of traditional coppicing techniques that this area was once known for. Voicing an interest in putting in some coppiced trees on my balcony and getting involved with community traditions in the neighborhood, the waiter in the coffee shop called the owner, who came the store and sat with me for an hour to talk about both coppicing techniques and ways to get started and about nature education. He invited me to join in community events and get more involved with this new place I am living in. He also kept repeating how happy he was to meet me and that he hoped to get together more often.
Sounds like a good beginning!
7 replies on “A Walk in the Neighborhood”
Wow, it sounds as if you’ve really found a good neighborhood, Miguel! Thanks for filling us in. (Not that Facebook doesn’t given one some idea of a person’s approximate well-being, but there’s nothing like a good blog post once in a while.)
Hey Dave, yes, I think I may have found a place to settle in for a while before I finally make the move out of Japan, or if I stay here, to some place satisfying in the countryside. It’s good enough for now and the apartment allows me to concentrate on my projects. Mika is good to live with in that we give one another space and support each other’s plans. We both have enough time apart that we don’t feel crowded, and we have known one another well long enough to know what we both want and don’t want.
I’ve been very busy working on the blog, too, moving it to another provider and trying not to get a headache figuring out how to use and configure a magazine-style theme. I want to bring all my work under one roof (journal, fiction, photography, drawings, and community information), but want to make the navigation easier while keeping the personalized feel of a blog. I think I may finally have found a WordPress theme that I like, after weeks and weeks of hunting. I wish there was a WYSIWYG graphic design tool for blogging… most design software only works for regular home pages. And working on the design via CSS and XHTML just takes inordinate amounts of time. I hope I may finally be able to get the site up and start generating content rather than rearranging the furniture all the time.
So pleased to hear this, Miguel. There’s a sense of joyful calm about the post; a touch of melancholy that’s just enough to accentuate the delightful optimism. With a little luck I’ll get to visit some day :^)
The photos are right up there with your best, and that’s saying a lot. They echo the tone of the post. In the colour photos I love the subtlety and the way the colours work so well together; in the B&Ws I’m particularly impressed with the range of tones; in all, I find the compositions outstanding. The fourth photo’s exceptional.
So glad to read this, Miguel, and to see more of your beautiful photographs. There’s a calm here that I haven’t seen from you in a long, long time.
I would love to visit you and Mika. I’ll try not to crap all over the place!
Maybe you can combine the metal cutting with coppicing, and you can help build a real neighborhood! (Maybe I should look up coppicing first I guess…)
I’ll be visiting this fall hopefully – would be great to be there that time of year again.
Community and belonging is so interesting, really, considering all of the criteria we think we need. Hard to pack them all in. But if the people are kind, and the beer is cold, and there is the opportunity to get out to the mountains, then you’ve got something. I guess it’s also what you can bring to the community. You bring perspective, creativity and your passion for so many things to this community. They may need you as much as you need a sense of community.
Anyway, just thoughts. And if I’m just blowing hot air, just send me to see the movie ‘Up’ again. It was fantastic.
Glad to hear things are working out in Tokyo. I’m a bit confused as to who Mika is, but glad that the living arrangement is working out so well, and you are starting to connect with people again. I truly hope you will carve out the kind of creative life that you want, and deserve and be able to weave nature in there, too.
Just to let you know, 4 months is an extremely short time to get over someone. If it’s never taken you that long before, then either they weren’t that important to you, or you just weren’t aware of your feelings. It all takes time.
Sending a virtual gambatte, and hope all is, will be well.