30 July 2007


I fall in love with places the way others can fall in love with people. Once I realize I'm sunk, I worry that I'll get lost in them, or lose them. I used to have nightmares that Paris was bombed World War II - style, monuments and cobblestones blown to dry dust and bits. I wonder if someday in my lifetime Lake James will be all dried up, a yellow bowl with orange fingers beneath blue and gray layers of lacy North Carolina mountains. I worry that the overdue earthquake and Mt. Fuji eruption will happen any minute, boiling the tatami mats in my old apartment and sloughing off the tea fields and fallen-in shack I loved, sleeping in the sunlight on the road that led to my high school. No more 7-11 onigiri or hazy sky with its view of Fuji-Shi down below, outlined by the glowing green caterpillar train. I used to stand on tip-toes on John's balcony, taking a swig of his beer and saying, "That's our city down there," as if the town were my child and mother-protector all at once.

I drank the last sip of my coffee today and what I saw left in the mug was foam. Like the foam from the tea ceremonies in Fuji -- foam that stuck to my lips like wet grass as I tipped the bowl and let the bitter, powdery remnants slide down my throat; foam of Octavio Paz's beach, boy and girl exchanging limes (love), sea and shoreline exchanging salt.

When I love someone I'm afraid that if I say it aloud, it could vanish like one of my cities; be swallowed like green tea powder; or fly away in the wind like the frothy residue of waves. So I hold it inside, with my landscapes, and hope that it doesn't change.

But of course, I know it doesn't really work this way.