I tried, fairly consciously, to trick time.
It was a fool’s errand, but nonetheless led to a great adventure.
On the anniversary of the hour of Jim’s death at home, it was already the next day in Japan, where I accompanied a daughter who was attending a conference in Kyoto.
The date, March 22, hovered around us on two continents, and everywhere in between.
One of my teenage daughters was to deliver a paper at an International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing. There were only two academic areas in which Jim and I thought this shockingly versatile child would have absolutely no interest: engineering and medicine. She is now a card-carrying member of the IEEE, and will polish off medical school prerequisites with organic chemistry.
And, no: I have no idea what signals processing is, but I do know that my husband would have been tickled beyond measure about her making this trip. I also know he would have found a way to accompany her, his carry-on luggage filled with camera equipment and books about Japan, and his Ipod loaded with Japanese language lessons. He would have eaten eel. He would have loved Kyoto.
It happened that our sons had the same week off from school, although another daughter did not. And so four of us did what Jim would have done: we set off on an adventure.
Our daughter (who already is on her second passport) made the travel arrangements, which began with us chasing daylight around the globe. A blinding sun never set from the time we left Boston, setting down in Minnesota for a quick transition to another flight to Seattle, where we hovered over glorious mountains before boarding a plane to Osaka.
(Alas, we did not have a Captain Bob or a Captain Joe, but the flights still went smoothly.)
We arrived in Kyoto near bedtime there, having lost a day–though not the day I had sought to misplace–along the way.
The next morning we wandered around Kyoto on foot. Our first stop was a park minutes up the street from our hotel. Two large birds (Jim would have known exactly what type) sat at a pond’s edge. Beyond them were mountains.
To my right, out of the picture’s frame, a man of grandfatherly age and aura approached and called out to the birds. They rose and answered him, with great animation and feeling.
On our way out of the park we saw a group of men and women of about the same age as the bird-whisperer: they were exercising, bent at the waist with their backs on the ground, legs straight up in the air, the sun reflecting off their bright white socks as they wiggled their feet in tandem. I smiled to see the glimmering, wriggling caterpillar effect. I had never seen anything quite like it before.
We wandered the very narrow and nearly empty streets of Kyoto, and marveled at the parking skills of those who had wedged their vehicles into tiny spaces in front of houses whose architectural styles varied wildly, but which were unified in sporting bright clusters of carefully maintained plants and flowers.
(To be continued…...)