This scene from Kyoto last year reminded me of a Haruki Murakami novel, and I suddenly felt elated thinking about Murakami’s somber prose that flow so beautifully across each page. I thought of Norwegian Wood, where he establishes such rich relationships between characters that you feel like you’re physically there listening to their conversations. I imagined this bleak setting in Kyoto to correlate with a scene between the main character, Toru Watanabe, and his classmate Midori:
I’m writing this letter to you while you’re off buying drinks. This is the first time in my life I’ve ever written a letter to somebody sitting next to me on a bench, but I feel it’s the only way I can get through to you. I mean, you’re hardly listening to anything I say. Am I right?
Do you realize you did something terrible to me today? You never even noticed that my hairstyle had changed, did you? I’ve been working on it forever, trying to grow it out, and finally, at the end of last week, I managed to get it into a style you could actually call girlish, but you never even noticed. It was looking pretty good, so I’d figured I’d give you a little shock when you saw me for the first time after such a long time, but it didn’t even register with you. Don’t you think that’s awful? I’ll bet you can’t even remember what I was wearing today. Hey, I’m a girl! So what if you’ve got something on your mind? You can spare me one decent look! All you had to say was “Cute hair,” and I would have been able to forgive you for being sunk in a million thoughts, but no!
Which is why I’m going to tell you a lie. It’s not true that I have to meet my sister in the Ginza. I was planning to spend the night at your place. I even brought my pajamas with me. It’s true. I’ve got my pajamas and a toothbrush in my bag. I must be an idiot! I mean, you never even invited me over to see your new place. Oh well, what the hell, you obviously want to be alone, so I’ll leave you alone. Go ahead and think away to your heart’s content!
But don’t get me wrong. I’m not totally mad at you. I’m just sad. You were so nice to me when I was having my problems, but now that you’re having yours, it seems there’s not a thing I can do for you. You’re all locked up in that little world of yours, and when I try knocking on the door, you just sort of look up for a second and go right back inside.
So now I see you coming back with our drinks–walking and thinking. I was hoping you’d trip, but you didn’t. Now you’re sitting next to me chugging down your cola. I was holding out one last hope that you’d notice and say, “Hey, your hair’s changed!” but no go. If you had, I would have ripped this letter up and said, “Let’s go to your place. I’ll make you a nice supper. And afterward we can get in bed and cuddle.” But you’re about as sensitive as a steel plate. Good-bye.
-Photography by Sarah Shaw @ www.mappingwords.com. All rights reserved.