02 August 2015

At what point

Some time in July, I woke up on a Thursday morning at 5:30, the light streaming into the bedroom. British summer is not summer, strictly speaking — it is an elongation of the day. The sun comes up and because it is so early, there is a kind of bright silence that I imagine just intensifies the further north you go. Then, at night, even if it is cold or cool, you can open the window, get under the duvet and look up out the window at the orange sky behind the red brick terrace houses on the other side of Victoria Road. You fall asleep and wake up in the light.

The Thursday I woke up, there was an e-mail, sent late at night by our landlord, saying she was happy for us to stay another year and she only wanted a little more money a month. I quickly agreed, even with other things left undone, because Yoko and the girls want to stay here. Victoria Road and St Peter's school; the Waitrose within walking distance; Queen's Park; Grove Park. I cut back the bushes in the garden in the front and the back. I moved more furniture into the attic and, when the girls and Yoko had gone to sleep, I sat in the garden and smoked my pipe, listening to the bells chime from St Peter's.

Finding where to live, and being able to stay in that place for more than a year, is a treat for our family, I feel. When I think about this, and the lack of security I have managed to engineer around our lives, I feel ashamed, like given another opportunity, I would have made another choice. Where, at what junction, I'm not sure. Was it when I first left for Japan, the year I chose to go rather than stay. Was it the night Yoko and I had our first proper date, and we walked together through that rice field from Meikun High School to the ramen shop on the other side. Was it getting on the ferry in Niigata City, headed to Kobe and then on to England. Was it that night I drove from from Semenyih and chose to come back to the UK. 

I complain about the government, about the visa constraints constantly, to the point that I can now notice exhaustion in the eyes of my British friends. God, this again. I feel the same way, the British verision of me frustrated with the immigrant verision of me. The American in the baseball hat, his accent giving him away. I hope things work out for you. I do too: I'm sorry I'm so miserable, I'm not that miserable.

My father came and went and I tried to explain again what I'm thinking, what I'm trying to do. My life will make sense when I look back on it, I try to say. All these things I plant, these cups of coffees with people here and there, a network of support. You write thirty e-mails and one comes back to you. The kids are happy, I say, Yoko is happy. What will my thirty-three year-old children say to me, I wonder, in which country. Will I buy them coffee too, will I understand why they do what they do. Will I be proud, despite what I know and believe. We all just want people to visit us when we are dying. My father, my father's father. I am a father, but not a good one, I say. I'm trying to be wise and cautious, in spite of it all.