Perhaps it’s the fact that I read Banana Yoshimoto‘s Kitchen yesterday. Perhaps the terrible cold and rain yesterday played a part. But as I approached my office’s building this morning, I saw a reflection that startled me. In that large plate glass window, I first noticed my hair, pulled back in a frizzy ponytail, attempting to conceal the fact that I didn’t have enough time to wash it this morning. I then noticed, for the first time, that my coat has light shoulder padding, which I should probably remove. Then, most startlingly, I realized that I looked troubled. Or, more to the point, I looked unhappy.
While the translation suffers a bit (boy, it sure helps to know that “soupy rice” really means ochazuke, or what the heck katsudon is), I was deeply moved by the stream-of-anguish life Mikage and Yuichi lead in Kitchen. I can completely relate to the feeling of inertia stemming from trauma. Most recently it was after leaving Spike. Every original reason I had come to Japan no longer held true. I was left wondering — if they’re not keeping me here, what is? And why? But as Yoshimoto notes in her book, sometimes we leave changing until the bitter end, when circumstance forces us to change our ways.
But we also always come out of it. We keep on living, and things get better in the end. We find new jobs, new friends, new ways of expressing ourselves, new ways of enjoying life. And, as I look around, I see that’s exactly where I am! I’ve got a great new job, with some new on-the-job friends, have rediscovered my creative musical ability through my home recording studio, and have been totally living it up with Mercy.
So what really was disturbing about my reflection this morning was that I’m not really upset. Yet I portray this fussy, upset, hypercritical, introverted, unapproachable individual both in my real life and at work, when I have no reason to do so. It’s a vestigial defense mechanism, erected back when I had just cause to do so . . . and now just serves to put people off, to keep me isolated, not from those that want to hurt me, but those that are trying to befriend me. I keep realizing, over and over again, that life is too short to let habits continue. But like the modern human I am, I bury my self-realizations in layers of self-delusion and regret.
I’m bound and determined not to let that happen this time. Hopefully, I’ll keep reading this entry, and not slip back into a comfortable, but lonely, existence. I’ll keep that self-confidence that people find so admirable (and, apparently, attractive!), but won’t distance myself from others just to stay that way.
World, here I come.