My Tokyo only lives in the past, my Tokyo has a merry-go-round in Toshimaen, called El Dorado, that had been made in 1909 in Germany, was exported to Coney Island, and finally ended up in Tokyo. I sat on El Dorado’s chariots with little babies, and ate soft serve ice cream on a bench with Grandpa. The carousel always had a spooky feeling about it, as if you might travel back in time if you sat there too long, or perhaps if you looked closely you might find yourself sitting next to a ghost who had hopped a ride from Coney Island, baby….
My Tokyo had Ben’s Café in Ebisu that could be relied upon for motherly meet ups, or work based lunches, and served the best coffee and cakes in the city for a while. My Tokyo had Blue Parrot Books, while there was no Amazon, a book store with used English language volumes in haphazard piles, and tall shelves. It kept me sane for a while at the start of my time in Japan. I would go and purchase something to read, since there was no TV I could understand, at least not then, no movies to watch, and no internet to browse. It was not very friendly, especially not when I had tiny children to haul around with me in later years, but still I would trudge up to the third floor in a non descript building in Takodanobaba and occasionally purchase something to read.
My Tokyo, Grandpa, my little apartment, the places we used to go – even the Toys R Us, all gone. The world moves on, but I don’t move on with it in my mind. I can’t. I have to visit the past to say hello to Girl, and wave to Grandpa, and sit on a merry go round horse, as it goes round and round with the years, until both me and El Dorado get dismantled and put in a dusty warehouse, so they can build a Harry Potter world there instead, and a shelter in case of disaster. I wish the world would not change so much. I could think of any number of days I would like to live again and again. There was joy in the sadness, there was happiness in the suffering, and now I am old. There will be no more of those days, those baby days, those sweet days when I was needed more than I am now.
The world demands you are a Mother with everything you have, that you subjugate yourself to the children utterly. Then the children grow…or not…the world moves on, and you are left bereft and unneeded, used up and unwanted. The Japanese have a phrase to describe women over 25 -‘Christmas Cake’, because no one wants Christmas cake after the 25th, and no one wants women after the age of 25 either. I used to laugh. I don’t laugh so hard anymore. I am unwanted two times over.
So here I am left fighting for a future with Boy, in my beloved San Francisco. I make plans for table cloths and teacups, for dining room tables, and a proper desk with a swivel chair. I make plans for a civilized uselessness. I think I would like a dog some day. Obviously I cannot have a dog in the shelter, but one day I think I’ll get a small dog and spoil it terribly, walking the streets looking for interesting people to stare at and write about, maybe we will find a new Ben’s Café and I can tell the dog about the days when I had two tiny children and we used to sit on a carousel in Tokyo and eat ice cream in the heat of an island summer. Who knows, perhaps the Boy might want me to stick around a while too. I truly hope so.