Diagonal Starting Points

It’s 5 am. A band of knee-high crows are cowering outside my window, seemingly very disgruntled. Their calls range from a cranky baby to a gremlin to an old, curmudgeon. And now I realize where my supernormal dreams originated.

The place is a vinyl box, plastic-coated and purposeful. Each item, knob, hook, cabinet is multi-purposeful and strategic, making use of the mere 500 sq ft. The only clutter was the clutter itself: a 5-division, 8-lid trash and recycling separation system that would confuse anyone who actually knew Japanese.

If there was ever a feeling of needing to escape the confides of a 1950’s Sears catalog, it was now. The muted pink Pepto Bismol decor was all but compelling me out the door. Outside, Tokyo was waking up. I meandered, a witness to the disorderly, comforting nature of society getting their bearings as one. Otherwise orderly, perfectly timed pedestrians and cyclists swayed and wobbled. Disoriented as if they had been playing dizzy bat or were a newly birthed stumbling calf.

It was April, the time for sakura. Bits of pink petals gathered in the curb crevices like discarded confetti and sparklers on January 1st. A disappointing reminder that the cherry blossoms had come and gone.

Multiple Starbucks, brand name megastores sat on the main streets while quaint, compact local store fronts squatted in the narrow side streets and back alleys. Sprouting plants tiered and huddled in every sunlit gap. Bicycles patiently sat unlocked, donning their flimsy, makeshift plastic baskets and showercap seat coverings.

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Vending machines sat out of place, seemingly discarded like a worker misread the directions, shrugged and unloaded the shipment. Glossy posters of unrevealing, winking pinups layered the entrances of unassuming, windowless buildings. A three-storied cement crossway straddled a sleepy intersection, I looked around curiously, peering side-to-side. A one-millon dollar extravagance to nowhere.

Slowing down was apparently sanctioned on Sunday. As I continued my run into Yoyogi Park, a expressionless guard scolded me ‘No running!’. A harmonized group practiced Tai Chi on a grassy knoll next to the Meiji Shrine, metallic skyscrappers towered in the background.

The streets remained hypnotic until midmorning at which point people seemed to quadruple in numbers. The air was dazzling and alive with the sweet smell of wafers and incense streaming from temples. Joggers donned yellow jumpsuits and bright blue Adidas-knockoff tracksuits bounced by, old men with lizard-eye bifocals crumpled newspapers, pedalers took long wavy turns. The bevy of life only adding a decibel to the noise level. Quietly synchronicitous but full of life.

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