If you’re anything like me, from day to day you don’t know where you’ll wake up. You find yourself in a room where shadows are only bats trick-bombing a street lamp.
Or in a room with curtains heavy as velvet or wet linen. You’d swear someone dipped those curtains in mud before hanging them, and everything in that room–curtains, desk, the pen on the desk, your hand on the pen–all of it slick and heavy with mud.
In the first room you’re always writing. In the second, never.
A doctor would probably give me a label and–before I know it–note about eating and drinking and exercise and “therapy” and how many pills to take when. My ticket out of the mud room.
I’d rather walk.
I still live on this long, skinny island. I’ve already walked around the whole of it. My knees balk at the east/west trek across the mountain. Head north and you run out of sidewalk and toilets. Even vending machines.
So I decide:
- Walk south
- Further than last time
- Stop before dark
- Bus north
I know this southward beginning: out the gate, past the bus stop, down the hill. The sky pewter, the air thick-wet. Shogun Weather promises me it won’t rain so I head out. Through the gate, past the bus stop, down the hill toward the new house it must have cost the bank a pretty yen to build on that skinny spit of typhoon coast. To where the sky blues up.
Today is a big day for hibiscus. Red hibiscus pock the island but this morning it’s orange hibiscus and pink and peach. Hibiscus that look like exploding redheads or bits of skin twirled and dipped in cherry jello.
Confession: When I walked around the island I skipped a stretch.
That day I headed to Yomitan the parameters weren’t in place. At the post office I left the perimeter road and headed over to 58 north and back home. It still made for a 37-kilometer day but I never rounded the Yomitan hump.
So along with today’s hibiscus and new ground, along with the farmers’ market I hadn’t spotted from the car in two years, and the lumber yard bursting with live-edge hinoki, along with the cafes and coffee shops and soba joints comes all that erupts near any US base: more bars, less hair, more fighter jets and helicopters. Air electric–for and against.
“Torii Station” is named for the symbol at its entrance: a red torii, or gate. A repro of the Shinto torii that mark the line between sacred and profane, like at Jingu in Ise http://www.isejingu.or.jp/english/index.htm. Except this torii is the dividing line between the Okinawa anyone can walk on, and the Okinawa someone decided would be another US military base. The “best beach on Okinawa” and the “perfect playground” for military families: http://www.toriimwr.com/toriibeach.html.
I pick up some scones at U.F.B. (Under Field Bakery), just past the bridge over Hija gawa. Devour the green tea/red bean/mochi delight while waiting for the bus north. I grin, thinking all the way back to the day’s first break at the Renaissance just south of Malibu Hills.