from Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami


The topic turned to lost property, more specifically to the huge amount of lost and found items left behind on trains and in stations, and the unusual, strange items among them– the ashes of cremated people, wigs, prosthetic legs, the manuscript of a novel (the stationmaster read a bit and found it dull), a neatly wrapped blood stained shirt in a box, a live pet viper, forty color photos of womens’ vaginas, a large wooden gong… p 222

I’m in a New York State of mind. This is the way our Fall starts off: first there is the first day of school, then there’s the settling in, the chill starts to creep in as the days shorten and my mind automatically turns to the city. When we left sixteen years ago I had dreams of taking T back someday to show him the towers where I worked. Then thirteen years ago it all changed–that trace of myself that I had left behind vanished in a pile of rubble.

When we lived there I would take T in with me at night on the train to work the night shift. People would stare at me, bringing a baby into the city at ten o’clock at night seemed like sheer madness on my part. But somehow we managed. Lately I think back to those days, especially the rhythm of the tracks underneath us as I held him in my arms, and I wonder if it got into his blood. His obsession with trains, with building skyscrapers seeped in through his skin or it entered through his tiny baby breaths. We left when he was eight months old, but these interactions have imprinted on him and have manifested in the need to leave this place, to “step out of the door and have something to do.” His need for an urban, faster-paced environment where exciting opportunities await at every city block, is a topic of conversation in the car these days.

I wonder what he will find there and at the same time what he might lose.

M and I traveled around when we were at the beginning of our couplehood. We moved in together when his lease was expiring and from then on we moved every two years at least. We were always packing and unpacking. When we lived in the city, our attic apartment was so tiny we never unboxed 40 boxes. We stored them in the closets and went excavating when we needed to find clothes for colder or warmer weather. Even though we boxed up everything in Pittsburgh, piled it in the truck and moved it to New York ourselves, we still lost a few items. That big yellow bowl, those glass canisters, where exactly did they end up? Have they gone to join those proverbial lost socks and misplaced keys? I often wish I would unearth them in a box hidden in the basement; I would greet them like long lost friends.

The very act of unintentionally losing something signifies ownership, attachment, but could you just open your hand willingly and let it go? Who owns those sneakers you sometimes swerve to avoid in the middle of the road, or the winter coats left at the Library when the temperatures outside are below freezing? These items sit patiently, like lost rescue dogs waiting for their owners return.

But there is a joy in the finding, a separation that has been canceled and nullified offers up a sweet reunion. I know deep in my bones that my New York self is still there enjoying her city life and all it has to offer. My Pittsburgh self and the Michigan one surely are having adventures of their own. I wonder if someday I will mourn the loss of my Vermont self or if here is where I am meant to stay. After all these years I am still finding myself– looking at the words thrown down on a page and wondering if that is my true reflection.

There are days when I think I should send in a search and rescue dog to find the part of my life that is missing. The melancholy and nostalgia threaten to overtake me, a sense of loss permeates like the fog rising off in the morning. But in my brighter moments I leave my desk and step outside during a quiet moment in the afternoon only to discover the sun has been burning bright in the sky. It wasn’t lost, merely hidden from view.

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