Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s brand; It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even taste it; well, you don’t taste air either…
A disproportionate amount of my richest memories involve walking. I say ‘disproportionate’ because only a sliver of my life has had much to do with the act. To be clear, I don’t mean the dotted-line walking we all participate in on occasion – the zigs and zags from our car doors – but rather the intentional sort of walk where your body’s motion is the goal.
Tonight, I walked around our apartment after the rain. The stream has gotten gorged and you can see the fishes swimming. It was bright enough but twilight cast everything bronze. The streetlights had nice reflections on the puddles.
I took two important walks in Japan, the combination of which became my first novel. One was intentional and the other less so. The first walk led me through Fukuoka at bleak midnight as we waited for Yamakasa. I was led by the hand of a quiet, clever, fierce Japanese woman who got headaches when she spoke English for too long. The night passed through me like electric coils. I came out the other end, but I hardly recognized myself.
The second walk found me after an impromptu doctor’s appointment. I’d taken the train from Munakata to Fukuoka to visit an international clinic. There were strange white spots on my arm where the hair had lost it’s color. I was terrified, particularly as I was about as far as one could get from the comforts of home. It was a quick visit; the doctor billed me eighty dollars for one word: ‘vitiligo.’ Harmless but defacing, I realized I would only be getting whiter, and suddenly I saw myself a caricature of my white, southern heritage. When the train got me back in Munakata it was too late and the buses had stopped running. I walked three miles on vacant highways as the night hid me from myself. I was met by one runner, a few trucks, and civilizations of crickets.
Every summer, around this time, I dream about Japan. The place left it’s mark in me, though I hardly dented it. I miss the heat, the forests, the mountains, the people – a few people in particular, though they’ve left the country for their own horizons. But the walks came with me. You can take off your shoes but the skin’s still there.
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson
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“Walking . . . is how the body measures itself against the earth.” – Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking