A quick one while my heart’s away…

Yesterday, suddenly, I remembered why I quit my job in NY and eventually came to live in Japan. And how I learned about my heart’s wayward behavior.

I remembered that one day I was at my desk in Midtown Manhattan, looking around at the people I spent day after day for 7 years looking at, and suddenly I realized I didn’t really know any of them.

It might have been a reaction from the sensimilla I’d smoked that morning while I was getting dressed, but I didn’t think so. Sometimes I took a few totes before work to take the edge off.

I do however remember that I felt like I existed but I wasn’t alive, just watching my life through my eyes, experiencing it vicariously through some stranger who was using me for some purpose, neither good nor evil, light nor dark…in fact, it seemed quite normal. Like this was the way it was supposed to be. And everyone around me was in on the fix or similarly had front row seats to their own lives, unwilling or unable to affect change.

It scared the shit outta me, it did.

I wanted to live again. I would put in my 2-weeks notice the next day.

That night, while I was typing my notice up, trying to find just the right way to kiss off a job while I was on top of my game (I was one of the top salesmen, definitely being groomed for management), I panicked. I had been procrastinating about making such a move for the past couple of years. A five-figure bonus for an outstanding year was due the following week. I’d saved up a nest egg in anticipation of finding the huevos to do it. And if that weren’t enough of an incentive, I’d even written a novel and found an agent of some notoriety with an outstanding track record. By all appearances I was not making a mistake, I was not about to undertake something I would spend years regretting. I was making a change the way wise people make changes: with forethought and preparation.

But, apparently, my heart hadn’t gotten the memo because it was racing like I’d just pulled a Tony Montana and hoovered up a mound of cocaine, reminding me of how stable I currently was, how comfortable I had become with a steady income, toys at my disposal, a circle of support filled with friends and family nearby, a girl or two poised to make a commitment to accompany me on my path to greatness. I snapped aloud, “What the fuck am I doing???” fell to my knees and prayed.

My christian roots tend to find their way to the surface when I have a crisis though I’ve rarely found my way to a church.

I knelled before my queen-sized cherry sleigh bed with the posture-pedic mattress, fingers clasped, head bowed, mind and soul open to answers from the powers that be, from the Creator I wholeheartedly believe was looking out for me, and waited.

He (or She) didn’t answer.

Someone once told me that coincidence is the The Creator’s way of remaining incognito. I waited for a coincidence.

There was silence in my bedroom. Nothing but the buzz of the fluorescent light above and groans of the century old Brownstone I lived in and my heart. I broke the silence:

“If I’m doing the right thing, Lord, don’t say anything. ”

The Creator, in his consummate wisdom, said nothing. No coincidences occurred either. I didn’t suddenly receive an email. The phone didn’t ring with some caller bearing an ominous message vaguely connected to my plight. The door bell didn’t ring prompted by a visitor with a message of ye or nay, little to his or her knowledge. Not even a bird budged outside the window, or called out in that Avian language of theirs that I seem to understand at moments like these. It was the kind of silence that only the Creator could produce, I told myself as I rose, sat at my computer and completed the notice.

Flash forward to today.

I woke up this morning feeling lonely. Friends and family are far away, literally, emotionally, physically…I hardly know them anymore. Actually I’ve been waking feeling this way quite a bit lately.

It’s a phase, I know. I’ve been here before. It’s not homesickness. I hold no more illusions about where and what home is. The cliche is true. Home is where your heart is. The problem is, where’s my heart? It’s not in NY. It’s not in Yokohama. And, most surprisingly, it’s not inside of me where it ought to be. It’s on a walkabout perhaps. Left me to my own devices for a spell. It does this from time to time. A little heart appreciation period I presume. And during these periods I am quite inconsolable. Unreachable. I survive on heart memory. I go through the motions of having a heart, which is unfortunately enough for the people I know here in Japan. They don’t know me. maybe some of the more perceptive of them can see through the amiability and passivity I display during these heart-free periods, but most adore me nonetheless.

They don’t know me. Nobody knows me. But, it’s ok. Who really knows anybody anyway?

My heart has been MIA for a few weeks now. I really don’t mind him taking off like this. Only, when he does, the major drawback is: Writing becomes a chore because I write from my heart. When I can’t write I feel useless. It’s hard to forgive my heart (and myself) for putting me through this.

So, I spend my days alone going through the motions with my Japanese friends and colleagues; watching them. Everything appears to be on the surface. Hon’ne and Tatamae aside, there’s an artlessness about them that I’ve only experienced with real friends and yet these are people I don’t really even know. There’s an openness and a vulnerability that I feel totally undeserving of. I have never experienced such artlessness. I am always crafty, tricksy. I always feel the need to be careful, to secure my heart. But, when my heart is on one of its walkabouts I am worse. I have no heart to share with my friends. I only have platitudes and the verbal equivalent of flatulence.

It’s enough to make you afraid. Sometimes, if you let it, if you’re weak or vulnerable or predisposed, it’s enough to make you hate.

It was enough to make me think about those co-workers I deserted 6 years ago back in NY. And the feelings that prompted my flight to Asia.

Someone once told me, “You can’t run from yourself. Cuz, everywhere you go, there you are.”

They never told me my heart could run from me, though.

While my hearts away, I spend my time occupying my mind with mind-numbing stuff…reading novels, watching TV, overeating, overdrinking, over-smoking and over-analyzing everything to the point when the point of the analysis becomes moot or exaggerated beyond recognition. Colds feel like cancer. Hangovers feel like Leukemia. The city feels like a Jungle. Home feels like a cave or a sanctuary or a monastery. Nothing I think or feel is worthy of being recorded in any way, especially in writing.  Not while I’m going through the motions of being a real person.

But, I’ve been down this road before, and I know when my heart will be back. It’s waiting for my call. It comes when I really need it or rather when I demand it through action. Its obedience is absolute. Its allegiance is unquestionable. It only leaves because I want it to go. When I need time away from it; time to see the world without feeling the world. Time to collect myself, my thoughts, my energy. Time to appreciate time, to remind myself of the gift each day is…

And then, one morning, I’ll be walking down the street, and an idea will pop into my head…not a brilliant idea, just an idea, one with promise. And, I won’t lay it to the side to be addressed later, I’ll stop wherever I might be and whip out my handy pen & pad, or rush into the nearest cafe to grab a seat, a cup of Joe, and jot it down, or, like today, upon reaching my office, head directly to the computer and begin writing a text message (in the form of this post) to my heart telling him it’s time that he came home, with utter certainty that he would soon be here.

Welcome back. You are forgiven!



10 Responses to “A quick one while my heart’s away…”

  1. 1 T Holms
    October 14, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    I think all human beings encounter extended periods of times of that dull, numbness deep within our hearts. In your case most likely exaggerated by the fact that you are currently residing in a country with a specific focus on group mentality. We may feel conflicted and hyper analyze every action and/or decision we have ever made, oftentimes criticizing ourselves over the most meaningless events. So therefore we drown ourselves through our indulgence of food and alcohol. All of this is because we constantly and foolishly peruse our memories of the past trying to uncover some hidden truth in our lives that will guide us in the “right” direction. Never question your judgments man. You made them for a reason. No matter what whatever you decide to do you will have your readers that will support you in your decisions. You are not alone. Good Luck!

    P.S. Sorry if this is completely unrelated I’m kind of buzzed right now (due to a similar situation) or so I believe…

  2. October 14, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    this was really good – this emptiness is unsettling- it messes with my balance – i know being way from home will be good in the long run for so many reasons, but I miss seeing my family and friends and talking to them face to face and touching them, being part of their mundane daily routines – now I am left to wait for big news because it seems silly to call across an ocean for no “real” reason – skype just is not the same – the emptiness, it breaks our routines or makes them more routine, who knows – but it definitely takes us outside of ourselves and going thru the motions feels like going thru the motions – and even though we know it ends – we also know it begins. hugs, a reason.

  3. October 15, 2009 at 7:09 am

    This sounds very much from the heart.

  4. 4 Bored in Kanagawa
    October 15, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    I must admit this entry actually got to me. As I sit here at my desk thoughts loneliness and emptiness starting rushing through my mind. Why is that I never drank as much before as I do now, why is that I feel distant from the people I encounter in everyday life. Am I just a shell of my former self or have I evolved into something else entirely. Please keep up the good work!

  5. October 15, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    While I do identify with this entry, I would be selfish to say that this feeling is shared by me alone. Loneliness is a resounding echo throughout the world, and even greater so in more “developed parts” of the world. People feel lonely and empty for different reasons. I, too, feel like a stranger watching my life and my surroundings through a lens for a large part of my life…wondering when I will go on my “true” path. While at times it seems like that has arrived, I wake up again to find that is not true. I am still searching…

  6. 6 Paul
    October 16, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Like it. As stated already, very heartfelt. Respect to you for doing what many people are afraid of doing.

  7. October 16, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Wow! Thank you all for your responses. I hadn’t realized how intense my post was. I thought it was more verbal flatulence. i guess my heart is back or en route (-: I nice to be understood. Living here there is a great deal of misunderstanding. Misunderstanding is the norm. I am a person expecting to be misunderstood speaking to people who expect to misunderstand, in either language. But, this is great. T Holms, thanks for the support! Reason2, keep your head up girl! Sandra, you might be right! BOK-san, we are on the same page. We still ought to hook up! Drop me a line at locohama7@gmail.com, Envoy-san, thanks for the shout! Paul, I try to put my heart in what I write but it’s tough. I’ll hang in there, though. Thanks for the shout!

    Peace & Love

  8. October 22, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    Hi – I just found your blog. Wanted to say that when I read this post I realized that you have just put my feelings into words ^^ I’m in my third year here now and there just seems to be something about the fall that gets me feeling the same way. I’ve tried to identify it, but every time I do the words “homesick” just don’t fit right. I think you’re really on to something here! Nice work, and looking forward to reading more when your heart fully returns 🙂

  9. October 22, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Thanks Eta-san, I appreciate the shout!
    Yeah, can’t wait for his return.
    I love/hate the Fall. It’s a beautiful reminder that summer is over and winter is lurking.
    I hate winter, but I love Onsens and Onsens aren’t the same without cold.
    Fall is that kind of season…
    maybe you’re on to something too. My feelings are definitely connected to the season, and my favorite, summer, is over. Maybe my heart is off chasing summer south, like those surfers who travel the world surfing.

    Thanks again for the shout! Holla any time

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