Beppu: A Flash Memoir for Spring

A view of Beppu, Oita, Kyushu, Japan

Spring always pulls me back to 1988, a pivotal year in my life. It was the year of change, of pulling up stakes, cutting ties, forsaking my stable landed existence for a leap into the unknown. It was glorious.

I had been living in Los Angeles for eight years. My initially enchanting if bohemian neighborhood, a stone’s throw from the old Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard, had deteriorated, become the scene of racial confrontations and sad decline.

The relationship I was in similarly suffered. Having recently crossed over from my carefree twenties into the tick-tock thirties, the latent issue of babies awoke and set to screaming. I had never wanted them, or so I had asserted, had chosen my mate (an artist) not only for the mad love he inspired in me but upon the basis of a shared commitment to freedom, the pursuit of art, and childlessness.

But in crept my doubts. My dissatisfactions. At the same time I asked myself, if I was foregoing children, why was I locked into an arrangement that felt so confining?

What then? I had always had a wanderlust. My career as an ESL teacher had promised ripe opportunities before: sweet apples I had failed to pluck, had left to rot on the tree.

But now another fruit fell into my open palm. Sweeter than I had any right to expect. A teaching position in Japan. And not a job at one of those fly-by-night, exploitative, street-front language joints in Tokyo or Osaka, but a lecturer’s position in English at a college in the hot spring fairyland of a place called Beppu.

My decision on whether to eat that sweet fruit or let it remain unplucked changed the course of my future.

This post is my response to Charli Mills’s May 6, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that is a snapshot of spring…We could think of it as “spring eternal.” Warm, renewing, new life, hope.

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He sat in the chair, vigilant, funereal.

“The taxi’s below,” she said. “I’ll call when I get there tomorrow.”

He didn’t rise. She gathered the last bags and closed the door behind her.

Freedom revved in her chest, maintained its thrum through traffic and customs. On the plane she exhaled into a blissful inaccessibility. Not even his voice could intrude now. Already he seemed far away.

She deplaned at Narita, boarded the island hopper to Kyushu. On the descent, she peered out the window. April sunlight glinting on the Inland Sea was a newly minted coin, just for her spending.

2 thoughts on “Beppu: A Flash Memoir for Spring

  1. Reading your post makes this flash all the more beautiful and empowering. A brave thing to do — pluck the sweet fruit. Often, many are afraid of the journey to the orchard. Your writing draws me in. I look forward to your new blog filling up with posts. 🙂

    1. Ah, yes, it is so sparse at the moment! I have tried to import posts from my other blog (Memoir Crafter) into this one but ran into a snafu that I can’t figure out. Anyway, you said it, the idea is to fill this blog up! Flexing my courage muscles now. You touched on how vulnerable you can become when you post what is really deep in your heart, but that is where I want to go. Thanks so much Charli. At least now I know the comment box is working 🙂

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