“It’s not worth it,” my housemate said.
“Not worth what?” I asked.
“Not worth trying to do work,” gesturing to my white blog page, absent of little black markings signifying my creativity and productivity.
I haven’t been writing many posts lately, mainly due to the multiple uni assignments I have due soon. I’m not sure if my non-essay, creative blogging brain has shriveled up into a sultana in that time, so writing this post is daunting when I have nothing in particular to say. Or perhaps, so much to say that I don’t know where to begin.
I could talk about relationships, and how many couples I know have broken up recently simply because they’ve been together too long, like those brown drips on your wall you never questioned, until one day you realise what you had actually been living with and hastily rub them off the wall and out of your mind.
I could talk about how I just finished Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell and congratulate him again for being a genius, although there were a few similarities between the book and 1984 that I couldn’t get out of my mind: 1) a main character named Julia, 2) forbidden sex in a forest/cove, 3) a general squalor of life and society, and 4) and ending which compromises the promises the protagonist made to himself, his eventual joining to mainstream society and renunciation of the fight he pledged against society.
Or, I could post this short story I wrote based on an experience I had in Japan.
How did I end up here?
Holding a faded, folded Google Maps print out of a miniscule town in Kyoto, twisting it this way and that way, my head lolling from one shoulder to the other as I strained to understand which path lead to my homestay house. The wheels of my shiny, black suitcase were furry from friction of the tar roads it had been dragged along. My Japanese phrasebook already dog-eared, although I’d only been in the country a week.
I stood in the centre of a spiderweb of roads, desperately lost in a foreign country. Three grandmothers waddled past, eyeing my suitcase. “Sumi masen,” I began, and followed with a mixture of sign language, pointing and smiling as I attempted to get directions. A petite nun in white named Sister Nita spoke English, Japanese and Vietnamese, and had a mobile phone (which seem to grow from the palms of people in the city, but are as scarce as Westeners in rural Japan). She managed to learn that my homestay mother would be back at 5 o’clock. The house I had been straining to find was only two left turns away.
“You come with me,” she said and beckoned with white-gloved hands to follow her. A gold cross rested on her breast and wrinkles around her Asiatic eyes told of a lifetime in the sun. Unsure where I was going, but certain of Sister Nita’s kindness, I purchased a paper train ticket and sat with her and my suitcase on the platform.
“I will take you to my church, only two stops away.”
On the train, heated air warmed the back of my calves as I gazed at vast rice fields and the deciduous mountainside, another realm to a Queenslander. The subtleties of Japan’s culture seeped into the small things I did; buying a warm can of hot chocolate from a lone vending machine on a deserted country road. Listening to the tinkling tune of a garbage truck as it made its morning rounds. Being tempted to buy a plastic sushi-shaped USB stick. And being surrounded by people genuinely willing to help a freckled foreigner, even if that meant holding up a line of customers in 7Eleven to be drawn a detailed, labelled map by the clerk.
We arrived in a town divided by a river. On one half sat Sister Nita’s church and autumn-coloured trees, on the other a cluster of two-storey buildings, a marketplace and of course, a 7Eleven. I stored my suitcase within the church doors, nearly forgetting to take my Doc Martens off before stepping over the threshold, and planned to meet Sister Nita in the afternoon.
I walked across the bridge to the unknown town.