Tokyo, Japan

December 15, 2019

A Goodbye to Japan

I'm staring up at a sliver of blue midwinter sky, thin and cold, sandwiched between towers of raw concrete that were never meant to be adored.

Tomorrow I'll get on another plane, clothes and toothbrush and poems and papers all packed into the same suitcase, same carry-on. Sit by the window. Listen to the same things I always do, eye mask tucked tight, and try to turn 10 slightly squished hours into something that passes for a full night's sleep.

But as the miles of Pacific race under me, hurtling towards New Zealand -

my heart will still be here.

I don't know what I can say about Japan that I already haven't tried and said better.

It's a favorite jacket that just fits. A mix of quiet and listening and passion-pressed-into-action that is unlike anywhere else. A place where the past and the future stand as siblings instead of ancestors. A place where I'm encouraged to make things really, really well. And where at 2am, I'll hear karaoke wrapped in too much whiskey crooning through the walls of my apartment.

Tokyo has been a gift for me, coming exactly when I needed it, and re-grounding me in what's important. It's seen me through the end of an era, and into what feels like a new one opening up, where I work on Ink and Feet, and making it really, really work.

On the small table in front of me sits my very first Ikebana, crafted in a class I took one week ago. The branches curl up, sprouting tiny leaves in defiance of the cuts that separated them. Bright red gazenias droop in the night, then straighten up to face another day. Beauty, grace, life - they tell me - is temporary. But it's still real. Still worth doing.

And so, heading into the very unknown of New Zealand in a place that's been pretty tough for me to be, that's exactly what I'm going to try to do. Make some good things. Even though they won't last forever.

Because neither will I. :)

Thanks for coming on this journey with me.

I so, so appreciate you.

-Steven

p.s. The best thing I saw all week was Hanif Abdurraqib's poetry. Seriously. Go read some right now. I'll wait. :)

p.p.s. If you noticed that sneaky link to my youtube last week, you might be interested to know that there's some new stuff up there. It is not very good yet. But more is to come. :)

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