Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

An Earthly Paradise hr596

When I lived in California, the apartment I rented had an outside Jacuzzi. I liked taking it at night, seeing the sky above. Under the palm trees, I watched an airplane’s small dot of light blinking and moving through the stars. It was the moment that I felt like a winner who obtained a life in paradise by getting out of not only Japan but also my family to which I had been a bound successor. Prices in the U.S. were extremely low compared to Japan back then because of the strong yen. It seemed to me that everything was on sale and I literally lived in a bargain country. Sadly, my life in paradise didn’t last long, though. The Japanese economy crashed and yen turned weak. Inflation had edged up in the States as well. Price hikes assaulted me in all directions. I became unable to pay the rent even if I had moved into a cheap motel. I was practically kicked out of the States and the plane brought bitterly-discouraged myself back to Japan where I returned to a life of reality in a teeny-tiny apartment. Time went by, and I had benefited from technological advances like the Internet and computers, and also from the fall of housing value in Japan. Those benefits let me live in a condominium that has a communal spa. I take a Jacuzzi there watching a beautiful view of the mountains with lingering snow out of big windows. One day, I felt so euphoric that I thought this wasn’t real. I thought I may have already died from that northern Japan’s severe earthquake or from the subsequent meltdown of the nuclear plant, and must be in heaven now. That reminded me of the sensation I had felt in a Jacuzzi in California. I had never expected that I would experience an equally enraptured life here in Japan when I parted with it there. If I traveled back in time with a time machine, I could talk to my other self who was in despair on the flight to Japan from the States. I would say to her, “Years from now, you will get another chance to live in paradise!” I would tell her that she wouldn’t give up music and would have completed two songs back in Japan that had quality she had been craved for and entirely satisfied with. How easier the flight would’ve been if I had heard those words there. I was too hopeless to imagine so much as a speck of the possibility. I always find myself foolish in hindsight whenever I look back later. There are tons of things I have to say to my past self beforehand. The question is, what would my future self tell me now if she looked at me taking the Jacuzzi here. Would she say, “Embrace the moment. It’s the pinnacle of your life”? Or would she say, “Prepare yourself. It’s just the beginning”? I desperately hope for the latter…

 

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.553

The frightening experience that I almost lost my precious wristwatch at LAX exhausted me but I had to wait for five hours for my flight because of the cancellations. I was allowed to use the executive lounge for the compensation and stepped in there for the first time. It was located on the second floor of the terminal and a totally different world. It was a quiet, spacious place with large sofas and sparse people who all looked rich. I was afraid that a person like me might be kicked out. There was a buffet that laid out a wide variety of expensive hams and cheese that I wouldn’t reach to get in my daily life. Since they were free here, I mounted them high on my plate and repeated it as much as I could. High-end gourmet coffees and teas were also free. It wasn’t the time for me to care about embarrassment of my devouring. Out of the huge window of the lounge, I enjoyed the view of planes taking off and landing. Out of the opposite side of the window, I saw the downstairs of the terminal. It was under construction and the walls were temporarily boards of wood. The passengers were waiting in the crammed gate area and some were sitting on the floor. Usually, that was me. Now I was looking down from above. I felt sorry and guilty. But at the same time, I found myself gloating. Five hours flashed by and I went down to the gate for boarding. Although the gate was packed with passengers, I got on the plane without waiting in line because I had gotten a free upgrade to the business class as the compensation of the flight cancellation. I was thrilled to sit in a full-flat seat for the first time in my life. Numerous buttons were all around the seat and it looked more like a console rather than a seat. As soon as the plane took off and the seat belt sign was turned off, I eagerly pushed the button for a flat position. With a subtle machinery noise, the back of the seat lowered and my feet were drawn beneath the table of the seat before mine. It slowly became completely flat. Because I’m short, there was still surplus space and I lay down without touching anywhere. It was felt like flying in a coffin, but for a person like me who had flown only in a tiny little seat, it was unbelievably comfortable. Probably because the flight time was less than three hours, nobody else made the seat flat. I was the only passenger in the business class who was rolling over and chuckling in the coffin. After I spent a night in Vancouver, I took an international flight to Japan the next day. This one was a long-haul flight of eleven hours. Quite a few Japanese families are usually on board on the flight to Japan, and they are almost always in a bad mood somewhat. The atmosphere on the plane is accordingly not nice. As I had feared, there was a Japanese family with ill-mannered children this time. The kids were noisy and disorderly, romping all the way. The flight attendants often came to stop their dangerous behaviors, but the parents ignored as if they were strangers, which is too much common in Japan. I remembered how things were going in Japan and started having a feeling of gloom. When the plane landed in Japan and I stepped out of the plane, the first thing that crossed my mind was a strong desire that I had been dreaming the whole thing and the trip hadn’t started yet. I wished I got back on the plane and set off a trip all over again right here, right now. The noisy family was walking ahead and the mother said loudly, “Finally, it’s over! I’m so happy to be back in Japan!” I wondered why they should have spent a lot of money and disturbed others by taking an overseas travel in the first place if they liked to be in Japan so much. Worn-out as I was, I already wanted to find the money to go to North America soon again. I meant, I was supposed to go there…

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