"Mono no aware" I thought. This thought came from nowhere, perhaps an offshoot from the months of practice I'd put into learning Japanese... and now I was going. Three years is a long time, no matter what you do, and I was commiting myself to staying in Japan that long... no matter what.

The plane touched down on a beautiful fall day. The scent of winter was in the air, but the weather was pleasant and the sun was shining. We were asked to please exit the plane in an orderly fashion, enjoy our time in Nagoya, and thank you for flying Delta. I sent my luggage to the hotel I was to stay at until I found a good apartment. I decided it was as good a time as any to start exploring. Bad idea.

It took no less than two and a half hours for me to get completely lost. I managed to find myself near a train station, which I knew would take me very close to my hotel... only most of my money is in my luggage. Yet another bad idea. I stood there, looking at the fare chart, holding my American money and a traveler's check or two...


Looking up, a woman, about my age, was standing there, holding a commuter card. Rather, holding it out to me.

".. ah .. I'm sorry?" I reply. She seemed to be giving me her card. I didn't know what to do... so she placed the card in my hand, turned, and left.

I was dumbstruck. My mind kept telling me to shout out, thank her, call her back, go after her. But I was frozen. When she was most definitely gone, I shook my head, and got on the train. It was the most beautiful thing anyone had done for me, and I never even knew her name.

As I watched the cherry blossom festival the following spring, I remembered the singular gift upon arriving, and the beauty of things not meant to last.

In a concerted effort to unwind, I walk down to the river. I find the sounds of water to be calming. Calm is something that I require myself to be. I am all kinds of edgy.

I have this area that I like to go to just to the side of the boat launch. There's a fallen tree that is exactly at the perfect height for me to sit on with enough foliage between me and whatever people are loading/unloading their boats. I can see them, but they do not notice me. I like it that way. I suspect my subconscious plan was to compose some sort of prose spun out of people watching, imagining their lives. I was not to get my quiet time with thoughts gently unfurling to the lapping of water.

Today I meet George. He is fishing near my spot. He strolls right on over, sticks out his hand, and says, "Hi, I'm George! What's your name?" And so it starts. George is in a talkative mood. George rides his bike an hour and half to this spot to come fishing several times a week. He brings a chair on the back of his bike so he can sit and stare at the boats going by. He spends quite a bit of time trying to convince me to come sit in that chair and talk to him while he fishes. I am quite happy being a bump on my log. So he props up his pole, lights up his cigarette, and meanders over to where I am resting and staring out to the river.

George is friendly, but mostly, I think he is lonely. He is quite eager to give me his phone number. "Call me anytime you need something done. I mean it. I can do anything around the house that you need." I am leery of strangers and phone number exchanges. This is truth. I explain to him that I rent and have a great landlord that takes good care of his property.

So I get to hear about how many fish George has caught today. Six, so far. And how many he caught last week. twenty five. And do I like fishing? George loves fishing. It's his hobby. He sticks his free hand into his jean pocket then tells me about his dog that just up and died. He cries about that. He loved that dog so much. He hasn't cried like that since his grandfather died. So we have a conversation about death briefly.

And just as quickly the subject changes and we start talking about the weather. And how many pets he has had. And how he lives with his father and doesn't have a car nor a job at the moment. About how he is working around the house to help out his father while he is looking for a job and in between all of that he comes a few days a week down to the river so he can fish and he can think

It is sort of nice talking to George. In the past few years I have generally shied away from random strangers,another truth. He seems so genuinely glad to have someone to talk to that I feel compelled to stay and listen. Maybe it is me that is the lonely one. Maybe we both are. I only know that I am no longer edgy.

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