I am fighting for my independence. I used to be so hung up on legal freedom, so totally absorbed in society’s mechanics of asking permission to be free, that I didn’t see the solution that was staring me in the face for the longest time: I could reject the mechanisms of oppression that sought to keep me chained to my own violent death, and try and escape from the boundaries of my prison and captivity at the hands of my intensely violent husband. It is not to say that it was merely a matter of adjusting my expectations and desires.
It was not a purely psychological issue. I also had to commit to physically running across international borders, and find the monetary means to do so. I had no family, hardly any friends left and none of them had any money. I had no one to help me. It was a huge struggle. Just getting enough money together to try and pull off my final grand play for freedom took me 18 months. I had to engineer my escape and for my help to also save up enough money to get us out and find some way of sheltering us. I tried to leave at least 6 times, but each time I was thrown back by the courts and the Hague, from the country of my birth, back to Japan.
I was not going to leave alone. I loved both my children dearly, and they were not safe without me and with their father. I had to take my children with me, and in doing so, put myself in danger of falling foul of the Hague Convention on Parental Child Abduction and some serious jail time. Leaving was like planning a great escape, a physically and mentally demanding task, made harder by the fact that leaving and saving my own life and my children was made illegal by a cruel misogynistic law.
The war is not over, even if I have managed to retreat. It has been a war of attrition. I spent five years living homeless in campgrounds all over the USA, running and trying to stay ahead of disaster. These last two years here in California, in my beloved San Francisco, with showers and running water, and means to cook food, and not having to move on all the time have been a fragile heaven to me. I have managed to secure a little more time, which has meant that the inevitable can be delayed a little further.
You see, I fear this war I have been fighting for the last twenty something years, that has ruined my life, taken away my security, forced me to live like an outlaw, and destroyed my health leaving me in pain every single moment of my existence, is not winnable. I can live with no divorce, as long as I can keep on putting physical distance between me and my husband. I can live with being literally outside of society looking in at things and rights other people take for granted. I can even live with the creeping realization that who I could have been is in the rear view mirror, and who I am is a pale shadow of that woman. I don’t care much that I will never have a big love in my life. I don’t care I have no partner to share life with. All I want is to make sure my son can have a life that is successful and full of happiness, and that I can share as much of it with him as possible.
All I want! All I want? I might as well say that all I want is the moon, the stars and the universe bundled up in a rag and left on my doorstep. I might as well hold out my hand and ask Diana to pour moonbeams into my cupped palm. I might as well petition for justice, and safety and freedom to an unblindfolded Justice, now I know her dirty little secret: that she is a handmaiden for the patriarchy, having bought her own success with the blood and tears and suffering of her sisters. All I want. What a fool am I?
Those few souls that held out at the Alamo, having survived a righteously furious Santa Ana must have felt as if peace was a pipe dream, and safety beyond their reach. No wonder the Texans still hold onto their guns, some inbred memory informing them of the rightful owners coming back into town on painted ponies, breathing vengeance with sharp swords and the bloodthirsty Gods of their ancestors bringing up the rear. My own little outpost of safety, somewhere I do not belong by any legal reckoning, my own little mission with my mission bell playing on cd in the background, through fender amps to my speakers, drifting out, asking “can we make it last like a musical ride?” sits here nervously in the ‘Loin. Crackheads to the east of me, snobs to the west, hoping to stay stuck to the brighter side of the road, to the right side of the windows… to the brighter side of life.
When I was young I used to want other people to approve of me, then went about doing whatever it took to ensure that didn’t happen. I was a contrary little soul. Now I am older, on the downward slide of a crazy life, and more comfortable and safe than I have ever been in my life, it is not so much that I do not care. I care very deeply…about sticking a finger up to The Man, thumbing my nose to conventional society, and going on my merry unconventional way.
I have a new creedo: I do what makes me happy. I treat each day as if it could be my last. I live in the moment. It might not be success, but it is freedom. I sit in my favorite bar with a soda I cannot drink, and my little notebook, planning my revenge and dreaming of a later in life success. I watch the world go by with a sparkling water in Café Trieste, wondering if any of my heroes of the underground ever sat there and wondered too, if they could possibly make it work and stay in San Francisco, with its fog and cool summers, mild winters, and life that chugs on regardless. If I shut my eyes I can see Allen Ginsburg and Neal Cassidy nursing Americanos and pouring over letters sent by drunk men chasing moonbeams across the highways of America, heading south in a downwards spiral seeking absolution or at least a personal revolution in those Mexican mountain towns, grubby faced and drowning in a restrictive society in which a man cannot be free. In which a woman like me, cannot be free either. Forever on the down low. Always on the rise, but never fully risen. Forever surviving, but waiting for the Man to come back over that hill with reinforcements and a better plan than you could ever dream of. My Alamo. My home.