Week 55

It's Saturday night. I can't make out what, exactly, I'm looking at. It's like pressing on closed eyelids until yellows and purples and reds erupt in the dark across your field of view, except it's all silver and liquid and my eyes are wide open. Wider open than I usually keep my eyes, probably. I'm aware that I'm making a face; but it's too dark for anyone to see that I'm making a face, so I keep making it, stretching out jaw and nose and forehead, trying to pull apart the skin around my eyes as much as possible, as if that will somehow regulate the pupil dilation I need to walk through this dark forest, which for the record is not how human optics works.

The moon up above us is white like milk, and the light that spills down from it has the same kind of fluid dynamics as milk, whole milk, thick and creamy and splashy, puddling in wide white pools on the ruined, cracked concrete of the road. When I walk through it I can see my shadow, spindly black, like a me-shaped hole in the world. One of my arms is laden with a plastic bag full of beer and I think something else, something cardboarded and maybe unnecessary, not mine, but I can't remember what it is or even if it was in the bag, which in the morning I couldn't find (though admittedly I didn't look that hard). I move the other arm, the free arm, up through the light, which in the air is almost silvery and tastes, in the same impossible way as seeing light midair, like stars, like the vaguely colored silver Christmas-light of starlight. For some reason I half-expect to feel the warmth of sunlight, to see the golden glimmering of the hair on my arm, and I'm really confused when I don't. Deeply disturbed that moonlight doesn't carry the kind of infrared that it takes to transmit light from the sun. I can't even see my arm hair in the moonlight.

Moonlight is terrifically bright, but only in comparison to the darkness around corners and beneath the eaves of whatever it's hitting. The road pools with those white milky fields, but the darkness between pools looks, feels like some animal sprawled out there, feels maybe like caves, something you enter and exit fully and corporeally, rather than something you simply move through. Something the presence of which you actively feel around you. Like qua explanation: take a person into the forest blindfolded and they'll know they're in the forest, even without having to hear it; or move a person from outside a refrigerator's big cardboard box to the inside of it, and they'll know, because one of the human senses that they don't talk about so much in high school is the body's sense of where it is w/r/t all of the world's business around it. It's how you can walk through doors without running into the doorframes, how you can drive a car, how you can climb stairs. Walking through the dark of the forest at midnight, moving in and out of pools of moonlight, you body can definitely tell the difference between the heady suspension of moonlight and the thick, static blackness webbing it. Deeply freaky.

By and by we get back to the campsite. It feels like coming back from sea — a far-off light between the trees, a questioning of self: am I seeing the campsite, or something I’m making up myself? In the dark of the woods your brain has plenty of canvas to sprawl out whatever unreal fantasies it wants in the dark bands between light. But you come back to the light, back to the orange, sodium glow, back to the traps of biting insects, back to the definition of shadow across the gravel road. Perception seems to retreat, a little bit, here, and it’s only then that you realize that you were functioning at like a higher level, in the dark — seeing a little bit clearer, even though you couldn’t see at all; hearing better, though there was nothing to hear, communing somehow, with the forest, as if in the darkness the edges of yourself, the place where your skin flakes microscopically and drifts off to become food for animals you can’t see — that liminal, barely-you place is dematerializing and losing itself in the surrounding. And when you get back to the light there’s a little intracorporal tremor as all of you falls back onto the insides of you, where the outsides of you had gotten a little loose, a little thin, a little lighter, floating above you a mm or less in that darkness.

And you stand in the glow of that sodium light and you take another swig off the can in your hand and you feel the wet on the grass soaking in around your shoes and your ankles, and you wipe a little bit of the evening’s humidity off your forehead and run dirty fingers through your hair and exist there. Your purposes and goals and meanings all just fold away, and everywhere you could possibly go from that moment just collapses down in a series of decision trees until you’re a single point in that hollow yellow light, a guy with a beer in a parking lot, a speck as all of history sees you; and then your friend finishes brushing her teeth and you head back to the party.

Everything You Have Heard Japan JET Programme


Week 56

Running in the 10km Biei Healthy Marathon, riding my bicycle to Monbetsu and back, remembering Canada Days with the Boutins.


Week 54

Driving home from Tony's house in the rain.