Japan and me…and die zauberflote…

I had the privilege of living in San Francisco some time ago. I lived across from the Japanese Trade Center, in Nihomachi. I had to be dragged away kicking and screaming as we left (in a business-related move) for Boston. I never got over it. However, when I lived there I chose not to play the flute. I was, in fact, in rebellion against just about everyone. While I remain locked-out and stuck in Minnesota, the Bay area is my chosen home. During the wet and wintry spring here, especially, I go to a local Asian market, to walk through the aisles and pretend that I am really near Grant Ave and Stockton St. Then I buy some mochi, remembering the joy of eating mochi in the open pavilion in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. Instead of letting the endless cold get me down, I call it a “mochi day”. Often when I lived in San Francisco I drove or took the 38 bus down Geary Blvd. to Ocean Beach. I inevitably looked out at the Pacific and thought, with both excitement and trepidation, that this was really the jumping-off spot to the Orient. In 2011 I made a pilgrimage to San Francisco to see the Chinese New Year parade, which I also miss terribly. It poured that entire day. The participants were covered in plastic ponchos. It didn’t matter. It was fabulous… But then a snowstorm hit the Twin Cities hard, and all the flights back were canceled. While waiting to schedule a flight back I phoned a family member who lives in L.A. and we talked for quite a while, catching up. I played the flute every day on that trip, as I do when I am on the West Coast, to make up for my earlier dereliction. A few days later I returned to the bitter Minnesota cold. Warm fuzzy memories of the trip were all that were left to me. Until the middle of March when I woke up to discover that Japan had moved 8 feet in a terrible earthquake and tsunami. This week I spoke to the same family member by phone, catching up once again. I didn’t think much of it until I read that the supertyphoon Neoguri was taking aim at Okinawa. My heart sank. So I will be playing the flute for all those affected by this storm. It always helps.


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