She Took the Midnight Train Going Anywhere

Tokushima Puppet Theatre 40

puppet show in tokushima, japan.

You were once wild here. Don’t let them tame you. — Isadora Duncan

It may have had something to do with the wild, wild wind that swept unexpectedly from the sky and lifted coils of my hair. Calmness and reason were overpowered by an internal sense of urgency: I needed to go, and the sooner the better. The feeling I had was not altogether different than that I’d experienced as a child when I’d race my bicycle downhill, the rushing wind so strong it filled my mouth and stole my breath for seconds at a time. Go, go, go. Flying on my bike as fast as it could go and with leg muscles too sore to continue pedalling, I would continue pedalling and go even faster.

The wind carried slate-coloured clouds that afternoon, driving larger-than-life shadows into the city. A typhoon was blowing into Tokushima and due to bear down in full force that same evening. The weather forecast issued warnings. Prepare to stay indoors. Stock up on supplies. The storm would last at least a week. I gathered my clothes by the armful and stuffed them into my backpack, left a note for the friend I’d been staying with, and took the next train that pulled into the station to wherever it was going.

A few minutes before midnight, I finally stumbled off the train. I was in Kyoto, with no plans, no map, and no place to stay the night. Even miles inland, the wild wind curled around me, tugged at my hair, pulled at me from several different directions while I paused under the sheltering overhang at the train station, unsure which direction to head. I stepped into the darkness, rain slanting down on me. My heart was savage and free.

Kyoto 20

the following morning.

Kyoto 19

rain-soaked streets of kyoto.