Charles Harries

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Week 18

The night of the rented Higashikawa cabin, and the emotional aftermath.

Saturday night, somewhere around like midnight. I am in a small cabin on the outskirts of Higashikawa. I thought that I knew where I was but when I tried to direct someone else to my location they got lost for fifteen minutes. This becomes God-awfully significant later in the night, somewhere around hour 2 or 3 in the bathroom: I feel that surrounded by this pink tile and steam and hot water that I am lost in a geographical limbo. A walk outside in the snow ought to disburden me of this thinking but the roughly torn edges only layer on the worry like thick frosting. By the time I am back indoors and dripping with snowmelt by the overworked space heater I am written through in all of the various epidermal crevices of my forehead and surrounding my eyes with confusion.

Also oh & by the way, the sauna is not nearly hot enough. This bugged me something fierce. It should have by all accounts gotten some twenty or thirty degrees hotter.

The wind is blowing loudly outside. For some reason no one seems to hear it. The snow is sticking only to one side of the trees. It looks like a sunset, but instead of light it is snow, and the great shadows cast by the trees, by the blocky cabin, by Peter's rented kei car, are little foxholes of clarity and turbulence. God, the wind is loud. Louder than it has any right to be — but who's gonna defend my right to meteorological silence, right? I detach my ear from the window with a little popping sound and the cries of the wind seems to rush away like the voice of my best friend, his body hanging canted out the window of his mom's sedan when I was back in like grade 4. Into the frothing sonic wake rushes the melded voices of so many others, people all around me in yukata and togs and buckets and a rice cooker? I blink and yep that's a rice cooker on his head.

My eyes are level with the low table and I am looking through snacks and empty beer bottles. I try to figure out how I am going to tell the rest of the world what has happened tonight without sounding like a review of Jackass: The Movie or another proponent of the #yolo lifestyle.

The following Wednesday I have recovered in all but a psychological sense, still axiomatically dazed & confused, and so I write a dazed & confused blog post, hoping to recover some of the frothing, teeming youth with which we carved our names and ages and voices into the fabric of the night, the light of a candle burning at both ends our little beacon, pulling us back home; but in the end all I get is a collection of words not particularly meaningful or purposeful or desirable or anything but God, Charles, something has to go up onto the blog this week. God knows you don't want to have to go back to see what you did on Week 18 and find some sort of black Darknessy void, a lack of code, of pre-generated HTML just sort of hanging loosely contrapposto, shrugging and saying, "Désolé," in that way that French people do when they don't want to serve you because they think you're American.

Il n'y a pas de Week 18, in any significant sense. This is a stream of consciousness placeholder to gesture in a general sense to the place where Week 18 occurred but never really stuck, a collection of memories & experiences we tried to tie down but buzzed with too much energy to really be engaged in one place, and so, like so many snowflakes, they disappeared into the big white ocean.

In the twenty-four hours between maybe midday Saturday & midday Sunday, something like a meter of snow fell on Hokkaido. I am coming to realize that this place has a life of its own, some churning natural horsepower, and I am not just a guy living on some land, but a rider on the back of a giant like turtle or something, which at any moment might decide to enact upon my person (body & soul) some great natural force, something inexplicable and Dyatlov-Pass-ey; and where I existed here one evening, the following morning I will not.

I'm watching my back, Hokkaido.

Everything You Have Heard Japan JET Programme