On Tuesday, July 25, 2017 I flew to Toronto for my first visit home and my first vacation since March 2016. Only a handful of times have I stayed in Japan for a year and a half or more without a ‘break.’ The last year and a half are one of those times. Like a prison sentence, as soon as I returned from my last vacation I began counting down the months, then the weeks and days until my parole - I mean, my next vacation.
I arrived at Narita Airport Tokyo a little after 1:00 p.m. Highway traffic was not as heavy as it could have been so we made good time. I was deposited by the Airport Limousine bus at the South Wing of Terminal 1. That is why I prefer to go to the airport by Limousine Bus, which is slower than the more expensive airport express train services (the Narita Express and the Keisei Skyliner). The bus picks me up and deposits me at ground level so there is no onerous lifting and carrying of luggage up and down stairs, escalators and elevators to reach my destination. It’s a simple thing. That is not the case with the airport trains, which would require lugging, hauling and dragging my baggage through stations.
The Airport Limousine bus was cool - maybe even too cool. And, it was also only half full. All the right-side seats were vacant because the vehicle’s air conditioning on that side was out of order. But it certainly was in working order on the left side.
At first I had trouble finding the Air Canada counter. I walked all over the place until I finally asked about it at the Information Desk. (It was way off, hell and gone away at the end of the terminal building.) Check-in time for my 5:30 flight didn’t begin until 2:30 p.m. Then I was told that my departure time was delayed from 5:30 to 6:10 p.m. due to the late arrival of the aircraft. (The Toronto-Tokyo-Toronto flight is the same aircraft that does an immediate turn-around when it arrives. Departure time was later delayed even more for the same reason. I eventually took off at 6:45 p.m.)
Despite the delayed departure time and the 2:30 check-in time there was nothing stopping me from doing self-check in. So I did that right away before settling into a so-so comfortable seat to wait - and wait.
In the waiting area in front of Gate 31 I saw this fat woman lying down with a blanket and occupying three seats. I can’t abide that selfishness, so I took her picture to broadcast on my Facebook page and my blog. Maybe the immoral dolt thought she was being clever. Or, maybe the thinks that being morbidly obese entitles her to something. It was suggested to me that I simply ought to ask her if I could sit here. That’s the obvious, polite thing, right? That’s not my way. My way is to passively defer to people and credit them for their behavior, for themselves, whatever their behavior is and whatever kind of people they are. Anything less would be inappropriately disrespectful. I mean, it’s because I respect her that I watch her behavior and conclude that she’s a morbidly obese immoral, selfish dolt. Otherwise, why would she be doing this? Good for her.
Anyway, soon after taking off from Narita a dinner service was due. But that was delayed because of heavy turbulence. As we were flying through the clouds I was quite alarmed by bright flashes of lightning outside the window. I don’t know how close the lighting was to the aircraft, but I associate brightness with proximity. I really dislike thunder and lightning. I know that aircraft often get struck by lightning while in flight with no ill effect. Their design accounts for it, but …
I arrived in my hometown around 7:00 p.m. local time. I had been awake for about 28-hours by then. The weather was beautiful and mild, about 21° C. Green and quiet. I could hear songbirds chirping in the garden. I walked through the local park to a nearby convenience store very comfortably in my shirt sleeves. A nice evening walk, taking pictures.
The next day, Wednesday 26th, the birds started singing in the trees around 5:30 a.m. My bedroom window was open and the air was chilly. A hot morning shower in the summer was refreshing. I could hear vague, distant traffic sounds. But what I heard mostly was the sound of my alarm clock ticking plus the first morning birdsong. The sky was blueish-grey while the streets were still dark. Trees were silhouetted like malevolent, black aliens against the slowly lightening sky.
My hometown is changing quickly. It’s not the quiet place I grew up in anymore. Downtown police deal with assaults, drug crimes, drug-motivated theft, homelessness, parole violations, vandalism, gangs, weapons violations, parole violations, automobile theft, occasionally arson, attempted murder and even murder. The County courts are in my town, so crime from the surrounding area is often tried here. It’s crazy to think that that’s the town I grew up in, but that’s what it has become. I want to record as much of what is familiar to me while I still can. Towards that end, I do what I do in Tokyo. I practice ‘street photography’ by taking pictures of everyday things that I see while out walking: garbage, flowers, benches, trees, animals, buildings, cars, houses, rooms, signs, bodies of water, countryside, etc. I take very few pictures of people - like family and friends - and even fewer of myself. I am not important. I am even more transient than my environment.