I am sitting outside in sporadic rain, enjoying the air like cool sheets and listening to wind sound the trees like a million paper wind-chimes and thinking of Murakami and the wind-up bird at sun set. Lightening hits the sky like a metaphor and if ever I was a reader into things, I would say nature reflected my mood: Illumination. Follow light by thunder—sound cracking the whip of reality—and I find myself like Mr. Wind-Up Bird; confused about reality and the surreal. I find myself pulled into the gentle folds of a memory.
I inadvertently got the book, with no thought of you. My sister had told me about it and I became insatiably compelled to read it ‘til I found myself with the book in my hands at the cash-register of the bookstore. I don’t know if you know this about me, but I am a firm believer that I am meant to read certain books at certain junctures in my life. I know, it sounds superstitious in a way, even to me—and brings up the idea of fate v. freewill (something I think Murakami explores in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle). Again, superstitious of me, I once read a birthday astrology book that said my life would be a constant struggle of fate v. freewill and the idea has struck me through the years. I haven’t thought about it for a while, until BAM!, one day Murakami walked into my mind, dislodging memories.
Anyway, reading it also dislodged the memory of a trip to the coast and only part way through the book did I remember our conversation about this very author and this very book; two shy strangers, really, infinitesimal amongst the redwoods (and funny as an afterthought that the next Murakami book I should pick up begins with a couple of strangers, really, in a wood—the chapter ends in much the same way we ended: “The thought fills me with an almost unbearable sorrow. Because Naoko never loved me.”). Anyway, the redwoods: The day was hot and perfect and still and we walked shyly through marbled sun and shadow to smoke weed where I didn’t feel paranoid, a secluded and sunny spot. We sat on top of a picnic table with our sunglasses on and our palpable awkwardness. We both became transfixed by a bird, but no matter how much we tried, we could not capture it on a cell-phone camera. It was like the bird existed in reality but could not exist in the artificial reality of a digital world. Anyhow, this bird must have made you think of Murakami—you told me about The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I didn’t remember this memory (this did happen, did it not?), only the book made me think so much about you. It was inadvertent, you see? I wanted to read it because of my sister. She said the characters basically have shit happen to them and they just accept it in a surreal and dreamlike kind of way. I feel like I needed that in my life; acceptance. That’s why I picked up the book. And then it made me think of you.
Maybe I should preface this by saying I don’t want you to get the wrong idea with all these words. I am writing this to you, to myself, to no one, because I feel completely and utterly compelled to do so (much like how I felt compelled to read the book, I can only write when compelled to do so—there is no free-will on my part; I have to do it). The story of Toru and Kumiko reminded me of us. But I identified with Toru and I thought of you as Kumiko. I feel like I have lived my life not dissimilar to Toru; going with the ebb and flow of time, wading through life as if passing through a dream—there on some visceral level, but head always somewhere else (I’ve come to realize I am a head in the clouds kind of person).
When Kumiko leaves and writes the letter explaining her infidelity to Toru, I became perplexed by her much the same way I am perplexed by you. Murakami paints Toru as a hero in the eyes of May Kasahara. She describes him as a man in over his head saving others. She surmises he will disappear and not have the strength to save himself in the midst of trying to save every one else, in the midst of saving Kumiko. Kumiko writes of giving over to the dark side of her nature, giving into fate after trying to escape it. I feel you are too much embraced by the dark things you harbor in your heart for me to save you. I respect Toru’s choice to rescue Kumiko, to almost lose himself for her, but this isn’t fiction. I hope I am making sense. What I guess I mean is I can see that you are lost, that you are hurting, that you hate yourself, and that you manipulate others to get what you want because you are terrified of what everyone else is terrified of—actual human intimacy—of getting your heart smashed, being let down, being abandoned, being betrayed. But I can’t be Mr. Wind-Up Bird. I choose to save myself. I could choose to read into every serendipitous act of fate; Neil Gaiman, Brazil, Murakami—but how cruel a fate to always be the saver and never the saved? A younger me would have tormented myself over the likes of you for years. I am glad I am smarter now.
And I hope I am making sense. But it is so hard to write by hand stream-of-consciously and go back and read it. And I honestly haven’t written a letter at this length since I was a girl. Poor excuses, I know. I wish that you hadn’t hurt me. I wish I could still trust you. I wish I could be like Mr. Wind-Up Bird and believe like he believed of Kumiko that she got swallowed by the darkness of something inside of her and that she could be rescued, that she deserved to be rescued—I am not so sure about you. I feel like you are a bit like Noboru Wataya when it comes to that darkness; I think part of you likes the power of it. But maybe I am jaded by my experience.
Anyway, I wanted to see you after the book, I wanted to write you this (god knows why), and I wish it could be different. But reality is slowly ebbing into my cloud addled brain. I know this isn’t fiction—what has been done is irrevocable. I miss talking to you, seeing you even, but I do no have feelings that venture further than that. There is a part of you that is dark and beyond me, casting a shadow, and maybe like Mr. Wind-Up Bird I need to sit grounded in a well and think for a bit.
I hope you have illuminations of your own soon,