Just Us

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We returned home on Friday from Tokyo. Although we left at 6:30pm Tokyo time Friday, we arrived in Los Angeles at 11:30am the same day. Since then I have felt good in terms of jet lag, even thinking that maybe because it was such a quick trip it wouldn't hit me so hard. Until this morning, when I slept in until 10:30 ~ which never happens ~ and even then the only reason I pulled myself out of bed is because my husband came up to rouse me. I am now sitting in our kitchen practically gulping my coffee, willing it to fill my body with the energy of a brand new day. Ah ~ jet lag ~ a small price to pay for adventures abroad.

Our first morning in Tokyo my husband and I went down to breakfast, where he promptly ran into someone he knew (in Tokyo!) It was a colleague of his who later introduced us to one of his colleagues ~ a young woman who works for him. After this introduction, the gentleman said something along the lines of this to me: "Too bad I need her today, otherwise she could go shopping with you!" My knee-jerk reaction was to take offense and say, "How do you know I'm not heading out into the city to do research for my thesis or documentary film or embarking on an archaeological dig?" But then it hit me ~ I am going shopping! That's my entire purpose for the day ~ to shop. Till I drop. At the shoppiest of all Tokyo shopping areas ~ the Ginza. And I won't be satisfied until I have bags bulging and arms weighed down with the long list of procurements I started working on the minute I knew I was going on this trip.

I don't usually think of myself as a mega-shopper, but on this trip I was going for it. Thank goodness the things I like to buy are small and light ~ papers, small books and art supplies, stationery, and the small washcloths presented in colorful displays at the big department stores. My morning and evening ritual is to wash my face, and these little washcloths are extra soft and smaller than usual, so they are perfect for such a ritual. They are a big deal in Tokyo ~ women use them to blot their faces in humid summer months, and also at public restrooms where disposable towels for drying hands are not available. I came home with a rainbow assortment ~ with paisleys, stripes, flowers, daisies, and even Burberry plaid. It's always the little things that bring joy into the smallest of moments, so even though these are nothing more than basic bathroom linens, I treasure them.

 

One part of Tokyo I discovered for the first time is the used bookstore area in Akihabara. Tokyo is all about these concentrated neighborhoods that focus on certain themes ~ antiques, electronics, musical instruments, and even motorcycle gear. The used bookstore section has more than 150 small shops filled with stacks of old books from floor to ceiling. Should I have the privilege of visiting Tokyo again someday, I will be sorely tempted to bring an empty suitcase in order to fill it with items found there.

More stories and snippets will be forthcoming this week ~ including a series of recorded sounds from all over the city. I've taken zillions of pictures in Tokyo, and on this trip I left my camera at home, wanting to release myself from the pressure of trying to record every detail that caught my eye. Armed with only my iPhone, I was able to take a few photos here and there, but was more focused on capturing what I heard versus what I saw.

 

After spending the week in a city with as many inhabitants as the entire state of California, I have been savoring the quiet few days my husband and I have been sharing with little Tilda in our home (although at more than sixty pounds, she's not so little anymore.) It is so rare we get such a long stretch of time when it is just us ~ reading, resting, and letting the day unfold slowly ~ and I am grateful for these rare occasions. There is nowhere to go, nothing to perform, no errands to run, and no schedules. Only time, and the easy sharing of space and silence.

Christine Mason Miller

Santa Barbara, CA

Writer * Artist * Storyteller * Guide