Wednesday, October 17

On a train...

I was on the Odakyu line making my way to Shibuya when a couple got onto my car. The man looked like a typical Japanese business man, dressed in a casual suit, dark olive colored jacket, no tie, company ID still hanging from his neck on a blue lanyard. It was a Sunday night, he must have had some work to catch up on before his evening out.

The woman was in her mid-thirties, wore a modest black suit-dress with wide shoulders, long sleeves. She had clearly been in a terrible accident some time in the last few years. Icy-white scars traced the touch of fire across her face, stole the symmetry of her nose and cheeks. Her upper lip was gone, the residual grid work of skin grafts across the more vital areas of her neck. Her right hand as she held one of the straps looked crushed and abnormally square, her left covered in scar tissue as well. A car accident was my thought.

But she had beautiful eyes. When she looked down to smooth a wrinkle in her dress or to glance at her cell phone I could tell she had been pretty, perhaps even stunning. I watched through the reflection on the train door and thought I could see the sadness and pain in her eyes still. But it may have been a trick of the light. The man she was with stared intently at a train map for several minutes. Yet he looked like someone who was avoiding something, I'm sure he's seen that map countless times in his life.

But then it happened. He made a passing comment about the map or perhaps one of the ads next to it and tacked on a small laugh at the end. She leaned over to hear, smiled and gave a reply. Then she rested her chin in the crook of his elbow and rubbed her cheek briefly against his sleeve. They looked at each other and smiled again. Then it was over, she went back to her phone, he went back to the map.

I got off the train at the next stop. They continued on together.

Tuesday, October 16

In Passing...

I saw a girl crying on the side of the road tonight as I was walking home from the grocery store. Fall has arrived so the air was rather cold and it had rained only hours before yet she sat, or rather hunched, against a concrete wall, cell phone in one hand, lit cigarette in the other. She pulled at her smoke as though the thought of the slow death they bring was a comfort. I didn't linger. I don't particularly enjoy joining in on other people's pain, but like most moments such as these I can't help but wonder what the story behind it was.

The easiest answer would be a fight with a lover. Or a sudden break-up. She was young and this is a common pitfall of youth. Perhaps a discovery,or admittance, of infidelity, a frequent occurrence to be sure.

Or it could have been something more tragic. Perhaps the sudden, or expected yet still painful death of a loved one. Mother, Father, Grandparent, Brother, Sister, pet goldfish. Maybe her favorite band broke up today. It is impossible to guess what can move another person to tears while sitting on cold, wet concrete next to a takoyaki stand, but there she was. But the next thought that crossed my mind was will she still be "here" tomorrow. My train was delayed the other day because of an "accident". Before absolutely any train in this city arrives a kindly automated voice warns passengers just how dangerous it is to be close to the tracks. So, "accident" has become code for something much more intentional.

I'm sure that whatever left her in tears on the side of the road was nothing more than a small bump in the road that hit her at a particularly fragile moment, yet who can tell the proverbial "last straw" from a moment's glance in passing?

These are the things I think about while drinking.

Sunday, February 18


I'm not going to admit to anything quite yet