Tags: People I
Mind the Gap
I read porn on the train today; in the 6th car of a 10-car Richmond north-bound train there I sat, reading Monster Musume.
For the unfamiliar, Monster Musume (JP: モンスター娘のいる日常) is a harem manga, and a damn good one at that. It follows the life of normal Japanese student Kurusu Kimihito and his interactions with a growing cast of snake-, bird-, centaur-, etc. etc. monster-girls. Because Kimihito treats them as regular girls (not as monsters) they love him, fiercly competing with each other for his affection, resulting in the risqué antics which I've come to adore and expect from this masterpiece.
That's to say that: this is not transit-worthy material. But here I am regardless, reading borderline-porn on the crowded home-bound train. I jumped on the Richmond BART at the Montgomery street station. Before that I was in Chinatown, one of the bustling districts of San Francisco. Walking there earlier, I could hardly tell I was walking in the direction of Chinatown until I was there, suddenly, my ears overwhelmed with the harsh sounds of Mandarin spoken by an elderly woman scolding her daughter on the sidewalk I was carefully walking. And on realizing that I must've reached my destination I looked up, away from my typical walking-daze and noticed a store on my left-hand side selling vegetables (bok choy, mustard greens, etc.), with no less than twenty people yelling at the shopkeep behind the counter who was frantically operating the cash register, opening and closing the cash-drawer as fast as it would slide back and forth.
After some walking through the madness and crowd of people (which seemed to flow out of the shops and onto the sidewalks outside) I noticed some kid walking with a pork bun. Damn, I didn't even realize I was hungry and yet here we are. Now I've got a cramp in my stomach that won't go away, even though that kid's already walked in the opposite direction past me. I pivot, walking now in the same opposite direction and duck into the first store I see. Luckily they sell pork buns; I purchase 5 (2 pork, 3 bean i.e. "アンまん") buns and continue on my merry way. I drop into a nearby 7 eleven and grab a bottle of oi~cha, continuing my northward walk.
It's nearing 4PM PST (7PM EST) and there's something I've gotta do; first I should find a place to sit and eat. After some wandering around Chinatown I find Woh Hei Yuen, a tiny (maybe half an acre) park in the middle of this commotion. That's not to imply there's no commotion continuing into the park, what with the classes of elementary kids filing (orderly) into the park and then (disordely) dismissing themselves to play on the playground. There's a group of old men playing a serious game involving dice on a table nearby. I take up residence on the top of a bench nearby these seemingly-tepid old men, perching like a bird, feet laid lazily where you normally sit and ass planted on the back of the bench, observing these old men yell, scream, banter over this game of dice. I can't even figure out the rules, partly because I'm obscured from the full game by the crowd around them and mostly because they are yelling in an indistinguishable dialect of Chinese.
I unzip my bag and extricate the buns from my mess of a backpack; the first bite is entirely bread but that doesn't bother me, as the next few bites more than make up for my hunger, yielding a mess of pork and caramelized onions all coated in some thick soy-based sauce. The bun begins to unwrap and I wonder how they ever fit all that into this bun anyway; with 5 more buns in my bag I imagine I'll be in Who Hei Yuen for a while; I call up my boyfriend.
We chat on and on and on, about the past, the present, the future; really that's all there is: where we've been, where we are, where we're going. And not just in the sappy, untouchable we which tends to avoid meaning but in the more personal sense, two people making decisions together as one sappy we; I hope you can tell the difference.
Our leases are up at the same time next year, meaning that we'll both be free to chose where we live come January 2020. What a thought! We talked about sharing a bunk bed (me: bottom bunk, him: top), maybe me sleeping on the floor while he sleeps in a bed too large for only him. That'd make us roomates. It's a very-real possibility. And what a way to close out our college career! It's still all up-in-the-air of course, nothing concrete yet. But just talking about it, lying down on the warm wooden bench and staring at the second sky and warmed by the mid-afternoon sun, thinking, just how deep is it? Just how far does the sky strech beyond our sight? That's a question neither of us could answer so I laid there longer, staring into its depth. Maybe I had laid there for an hour, maybe two, I'm not really sure; it was a long time.
Thinking about things like this makes me feel a little differently than I ever have before. I noticed this when I came home to my cozy room-under-the-stairs (which were it anywhere else but only 30 minutes from downtown San Francisco I wouldn't pay as much as I do to rent it for 2.5 months) I detected this feeling; it's as if I'd crossed a gap I could only see behind me.
It's that way with a lot of gaps I've noticed: you never see them coming but once you've crossed the threshold you wonder how something that obvious never was that obvious before.
My high-school band director always said: there's a gap you hit when you turn 25; things stop being simple and you finally realize the control you have over your life: that you can give it a direction, any direction you want. He likened it to a switch flipping in your head, that someday suddenly you'd realize it: that maybe the people who love you the most also deserve love, too, that maybe some people aren't as simple as you've cut them out to be. Things like this and more, he promised, we'd realize with due time. And maybe it fell on deaf ears in that classroom, but I bet more than a handful remember his enthusiasm. And all this coming from someone who was scarcely 27.
Maybe the lesson he really taught wasn't that when you turn 25 the skies finally clear and you're able to see the ineffable truth; maybe he meant that you're always in front of the gap, always behind the gaps, able to see clearly just what mistakes you had made and what sorts of things you never realized until after crossing the threshold; that at the same time you're always before some other gap, a threshold you'll cross whether you like it or not (and whether you're ready or not, whether you realize it or not, etc. etc.) you'll cross it all the same and suddenly nothing will be the same, everything will be different.
I relinquish my seat on the bench; the sky laid out before my heaven-cast eyes seems to stretch its blue arms into my future, pulling and tugging on the future-fibre of my soul and moving me so to tears as I imagine all that the sky knows that I do not.
The rest of the day is a blur; people come into and out-of focus, I read my smut on the homeward-bound train and stare out the window, watching the second sky unfold before me.
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