I'm lying in my bed. It is a rainy, spring night, fourteen stories above a highway of tracks. Trains rumble by subtly. The noise is soothing and rhythmic. It is expected, and in that way comforting. When a distractive noise becomes a constant, its absence is the bother. The air is sweet and cool, with a hint of fragrance. It smells like warm things to come, an Ocean not far, and that crisp odour of a rain not long past. Wind blows through the partly opened window, the cross breeze created by the slightly ajar balcony door. It is late, too late to hear the goings on of anyone's daily life. Yet in that void creeps the night noises of a city in slumber. The lone car drives quickly down an empty street, accelerating loudly. A drunken couple talks nonsense, stumbling home to their empty, waiting beds. And amidst it all, the ever constant, a train rumbles by softly.
I am sitting in front of a large glass tank. Inside the transparent walls, exists an artificial world made of real creatures. They swim by methodically. They swim by rhythmically. They swim by with out a glance, or a thought, or a care. A turtle makes a wide circle, it's path the span of the tank, not a inch of circumference wasted. The fish are more erratic. They swim faster, they change direction more often, they are less and less consistent in a way proportionate to their size. The smallest abandoned the notion of a circle outright, and swarm in tight lines. Back and forth. Back and forth. A shark swims in a disjointed way. Diagonally, slightly up with a list to the left. The little fish don't like this. Back and forth. I picture the tank from above. I am looking down on a city, everyone with a path. Who makes the wide arcs of a turtle? Which of you is the back and forth of the tiny frightened fish? Who will claim the title of the listing shark? They're not that much different then people. Then I walk away, and realize that at least I can walk away.
I am in a dimly lit bar, surrounded by smokey vapours and that comforting smell of old bottles. My company is little, but diverse. An androgynous, mouth breather straddles the bar cautiously. Next to her sits a sack of a women idly pulling on a lit cigarette. They are both playing audience to a thin, reedy, caricature of a bartender, who gives me the last dregs of the Kirin at a hit to his wallet. The bar is small, and in that way lovely. There are no surprises behind corners, and no corners to be surprised around. It is a tiny bar on its surface, and deeper than most in other ways. I sit in a thick leather chair and open my book. I drink slowly. I am the absence of urgency. The bartender looks at me reluctantly, imploringly; an alien reading a book is bad for the night life.
I am in a train car, enveloped in the noise of a language unintelligible, or maybe misunderstood. A man sleeps by my right shoulder restlessly. I am poked and prodded by the jerking fits of an active napper. Smoke and perfume is in the air, cigarettes and the mask of something sweeter; fake and manufactured. It half works and creates something less than the sum of its parts, not as intoxicating to me as either scent alone. I suck on an empty beer can and its empty insides gurgle sullenly. The drink isn't a crutch or a release, but a luxury allowed in a country not my own. I lose myself in the noise again. I recognize the tones of normal conversation: anger, joy and urgency among them, yet the sounds hold no weight. I touch lightly upon moments of understanding. I catch words and phrases like I'm eavesdropping through a thin wall; the sound is muffled. It slips away swiftly, my comprehension, and I am alone again in a sea of people. Alone in the least lonely way possible.
Shift, I am in a classroom, I am in a busy train station, I am in a coffee shop draining the last of my drink. Bottoms up. The scenery flickers, and I am the static visitor to this world's many vistas. The extreme constant. The world is my moving picture show, and it comes to me.
I hope you liked that. I kept everyone waiting long enough that I figured I should write something beyond the standard 'been here, seen that' regurgitation. Good things come to those that wait. In answer to your questions, yes these are all real scenarios that I have experienced in the past few weeks, and I just took the liberty of adding a little dash of artistic license. I'm not even sure how you sit at a bar cautiously, but my word that lady was doing it.
I went to the aquarium last Friday, and it was an aquarium. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I don't think I've ever been to a real one before. I really do like zoos and things of the like, but the general impression I got from Nagoya Aquarium was 'sad'. I spent a lot of time sitting creepily in the back of dark rooms watching things swim in circles. Sometimes I enjoy going places with others, but something about my rainy Friday solo trip to the aquarium was positively haunting. I can be alone.
The bar is a tiny thing just minutes from my house. It boasts a dense, smokey, atmosphere, and sports a crowd of people that often come off manic or manic depressive. They never pursue conversation with me, and there are rarely more than two patrons at a time. I like this. It is obscurely located down a side street, and I find the little nook absolutely charming. Quaintness, but not in a lame way.
Train rides are exactly as I described them, I just don't always have a beer. The first paragraph is every night from my room since I started leaving my window open, give or take the rain. I could always hear the trains, but they were a rattling, distant thunder before, instead of the distinct rolling melody I hear now. I have also gained those other nuances of the night - the traffic, the inebriated, and I desperately wish for crickets.
I'm in the full swing of teaching time now. There are children. They hug me, and bother me and make me smile. I like some of them more than most, and I like all of them more than I honestly expected. They're children, and I can't get mad at them for being so. I get more annoyed at adults who pay for conversation classes and then don't speak.
I am content. I am busy, but I am not wishing to be elsewhere. I'm not rushed to live my life. Sometimes the easiest way to adapt to a new situation is to be completely absolute of self. Then after a little ado, the situation finds itself forced to bend around you. Knowing who you are in every possibility is the ultimate flexibility.
However, being who you are in every possibility is the ultimate challenge.
Thanks for reading,