Today I lost my hat. Again. After I lost it the last time, I went back to the same shop in Ueno and bought it for the same 800 yen that I paid the last time. But today, I lost that very hat that I went back and repurchased. We weren’t even out clubbing – just getting dinner and a drink. Yet, my hat is still just as lost as it was when it descended into the void that is Ageha (said void now holds my hat, my scarf, and my phone case, among countless others’ possessions, I’m sure).
I was sad. Very sad. Not as much because I lost my hat – as it was a rather warm night, and I have another hat – but because it represents failure. I never really lost anything in America, so it’s new for me. I don’t like it.
But then I wasn’t sad.
Because I remembered that I’m in fucking Japan, and Japan is Japan and I’m here. I often get that feeling. I’ll be walking home at night, headphones in, the weather just cold enough to produce a small chill in me beneath my layers, and I see the Sky Tree. It extends up beyond the small river I walk along, its bright lights trying to bring some excitement to boring, old East Tokyo.
It fails, but only in that respect.
It succeeds in making me content.
There’s just something about the Sky Tree beyond the river on the chilly night in Hirai to the east of Tokyo that makes me feel right. It’s something about being in the place where Kelly can see shooting stars at night over the Arakawa as we sip wine and freeze; the place where Bella can be late to class because she stopped to pet too many dogs on her way to school; the place where Hannah can wear a kimono in the very place where we have been absolutely shitfaced too many times to count; the place where Lucas can dance terribly to overly loud music in a bar filled with middle-aged expats; the place where Minky can somehow still be talking to that one salaryman on Line, even though it’s been forever and they haven’t met again; the place where I can walk home after something goes wrong and always feel right.
These places are not the same place, but they are all my Tokyo, and that small stretch of my walk home along the river brings all of the places together.
I’ve lost my hat twice and my scarf once, and soon I’ll lose that tiny length of River. My flight is booked for 3 months from today, but I’m already imagining returning to that part of the river where the Sky Tree lifts up into the night and the air is always just chilly enough to let your own thoughts warm you up, and I know it’ll feel the same.