Thursday, March 3, 2011

Scattered Moments

Looking for something today ended with a box of old photographs and postcards, the search stalled while I rummaged through scattered moments and seasons from bygone days. Unlike some, I’ve always resisted the notion of aligning old photographs in systematic pages of year and occasion, a layout enabling the viewer linear movement through memories that are better enjoyed in haphazard order. Suppose it could be a way of rehashing the past peculiar to just me, but the catapult from one disjointed old image to another is the kind of reminiscence I savor.

Something warns me that few beside myself will find much meaning or value in the three photographs and two postcards I set aside. Can’t remember when I last looked at these pictures, small and rumpled paper cards that got tossed into a box when I left Japan. Each one of the five rings a distinct tone, has a background that could fill, well…

Postcard from a longtime friend who left Japan after a long stay. For some years all non-Japanese residents of Japan were required to register at a government office called ‘Alien Registration.’ This old postcard is an American card, one probably made by a photographer familiar with Japanese Immigration procedures. From my friend Laura, it brings her back in a thousand ways.

Through the connections of my teacher or deliberations unknown to me, one of my works in brushwriting (shodô) was selected for inclusion in an exhibition. Mine is at the top left in the green frame. Makes me wonder how Motohashi-san, my longtime teacher is getting along.

Picture of my very first desktop in Komae, 1982. Most of the books are dictionaries of one kind or another, the large red one at the left is even now resting at one end of my Florida desk. This photo reminds me of a good friend and the house we rented beside a bamboo grove on the grounds of an old temple.

‘A Man of the World’ (Ein Mann von Welt!), a German postcard from one of my oldest friends, mailed from New York to Tokyo.

A memento of Singapore purchased at a flea market while on holiday in Southeast Asia. The picture caught my eye with its sublime composition of eight family members, almost certainly ethnic Chinese—the unknown photographer a true artist. Oddly enough, looking at the picture brings back a terrible car crash I came through one week earlier in Southern Thailand.

As Dean Martin once sang, “Memories are made of this…”


  1. I can imagine the joy of going through "memories". It does consume time, but it is a wonderful way to spend some time.

  2. Photographs and postcards and letters from the past always creep into my life (and writing) with firm insistence since I believe the past is always present. To read three letters from my great grandmother when she was a patient at the Mayo Clinic in the 1920's is to be transported back to her room and then to the image of my grandmother sitting in the kitchen at the farm, reading the news of her mother's health. Endlessly fascinating.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America