I spoke with a friend this morning who has moved back to the states and taken up residence in the northeast to play in an orchestra for the year. She gave me a tour of her apartment, showed me the yard outside, and told me about her first few adventures back in America; how she had driven from Tucson up through California and Oregon in her newly purchased car, seen waves of grain and huge skies, found an apartment in a few days, moved in, and started rehearsals. And she told me about meeting new people in the orchestra, about listening to the radio in English, about going to orchards and wineries and breweries as her new friends showed her the town and surrounding area. She told me about a social gathering where others were smoking marijuana, because it's legal in that state. She's also in the midst of figuring out health insurance options, looking for students, thrift store shopping for all her furniture and clothing needs, and finding the public library which will be full of books that she can read. And she told me how it was so hard not to constantly talk about Japan. Such a recent memory, the place of experiences for the past three years, and a contrast by which to measure the novelty of her new home.
It's incredible to hear about the transition. I spoke with her about things in Japan as well and we reflected on the bearing that the last year brings to each season. The weight of the realization: this will be the last time for fall leaves, the last time for flower viewing. The ephemeral sense of these experiences becomes even more heightened.
Circumstances of the day deposited me on a bike ride home past dark. The air is perfect these days for biking and the path was quiet, mostly empty; the moon was bright in the sky over a river whose banks were recently redesigned by a typhoon, barren in places, sandy, pooled water reflecting the clear night sky.
It wasn't until I got home that a Google widget suggested that today was a special day in Japan. Today was tsukimi, or "moon-viewing," the time of the year when one views the full moon, taking advantage of its brilliance in the clear fall sky. I had no idea it was my last. So naturally it fell upon me to be biking the river tonight. Sometimes fate has such a way of guiding us. Of course it will be there again tomorrow, and perhaps knowingly I will guide myself to return. But what can such knowledge bring to the river? There's no holding it. It will never be the same.