This book sent me back into my habit of copying long, beautiful passages into my diary for later pleasant surprise reading. I haven't (been able to?) put it back on my bookshelf. It just lies on my bedside. Beauty is a disease. When I hit page 29, I changed my bookmark. Made it a plain piece of paper so I could write the lines/ keywords/ page numbers of sentences I wanted to keep.
What we needed were not words and promises but the steady accumulation of small realities.
"Do you think it will turn to rain?" Shimamoto asked, tapping the tip of her boot on the ground.
looked at the sky. "I think it'll hold out for a while," I said.
"No, that's not what I mean. What I mean is, will the child's ashes flow to the sea, mix with the seawater, evaporate, form into clouds, and fall as rain?"
I looked up at the sky one more time. And then at the river flowing.
"You never know," I replied.
Even castles in the air can do with a fresh coat of paint.
I spent three weeks scouring shops throughout Tokyo in search of the world's greatest soap dispenser.
"I thought you'd never come here again," I said.
"Every time I see you, you say the same thing,"she said, laughing. As always, she sat down next to me at the bar and rested both hands on the counter. "But I did write you a note saying I wouldn't be back for a while, didn't I?"
"For a while is a phrase whose length can't be measured. At least by the person who's waiting," I said.
"But there must be times when the word's necessary. Situations when that's the only possible word you can use," she said.
"And probably is a word whose weight is incalculable."
"You're right," she said, her face lit up by her usual smile, a gentle breeze blowing from somewhere far away. "I apologize. I'm not trying to excuse myself, but there was nothing I could do about it. Those were the only words I could have used."
"Lovers born under an unlucky star," she said. "Sounds like it was written for the two of us."
"You mean we're lovers?"
"You think we're not?"
I looked at her. She wasn't smiling any more. I could make out a faint glimmer deep within her eyes.
"Shimamoto-san, I don't know anything about you," I said. "Every time I look in your eyes, I feel that the most I can say about you is how you were at age twelve. The Shimamoto-san who lived in the neighbourhood and was in my class. But that was twenty-five years ago. The Twist was in, and people still rode on trams. No cassette tapes, no tampons, no bullet train, no diet food.I'm talking about a long time ago. Other than what I know about you then, I'm in the dark.
"Is that what you see in my eyes? That you know nothing about me?"
"Nothing's written in your eyes," I replied. "It's written in my eyes. I just see the reflection in yours."
... I reach out my hand to see, but you've hidden yourself behind a cloud of probablys. Do you think we can go on like this for ever?
"Possibly. For the time being," she answered.
"I see I'm not the only one with a strange sense of humour," I said. And smiled.
She smiled too. The rain has stopped, without a second there's a break in the clouds, and the very first rays of sunlight shine through -- that kind of smile. Small, warm lines at the corner of her eyes, holding out the promise of something wonderful.
Because memory and sensations are so uncertain, so unbiased, we always rely on a certain reality -- call it an alternate reality -- to prove the reality of events. To what extent facts we recognize as such really are as they seem, and to what extent these are facts merely because we label them as such, is an impossible distinction to draw. Therefore, in order to pin down reality as reality, we need another reality to relativize the first. Yet that other reality requires a third reality to serve as its grounding. AN endless chain is created within our consciousness, and it is the maintenance of this chain which produces the sensation that we are actually here, that we ourselves exist. But something can happen to sever that chain and we are at a loss. What is real? Is reality on this side of the break in the chain? Or over there, on the other side?
When the trio were on their break, I went up to the pianist and told him he no longer needed to play "Star-Crossed Lovers". I mustered up the friendliest smile I could. "You've played it for me enough. It's about time to stop."
He looked at me, as if weighing something in his mind. The two of us were friends, had shared a few drinks and gone beyond the usual polite conversation.
"I don't quite understand," he said. "You don't want me to go out of my way to play that song? Or you don't want me to ever play that song again? There's a big difference, and I'd like to be clear about this."
"I don't want you to play it,"I said.
"You don't like the way I play it?"
"I have no problems with your playing. It's great. There aren't many people who can handle that tune the way you do."
"So its the tune itself you don't want to hear any more?"
"You could say that,"I replied.
"Sounds a little like Casablanca to me!" he said.
"I suppose so," I said.
Since then, sometimes when he catches sight of me, the pianist breaks into a few bars of "As time goes by."
The reason I didn't want to hear that tune again had nothing to do with memories of Shimamoto. The song just didn't do to me what it used to. Why, I can't say. The special something I'd found ages ago in that melody was no longer there. It was still a beautiful tune, but nothing more. And I had no intention of lingering over the corpse of a beautiful song.