Please Call

In Japan they call it san-ichi-ichi, three one one, emulating the expression for nine-eleven in Japanese, which is nine-one-one. I guess the implication is that this was Japan’s unexpected disaster, but I don’t like the comparison. Japan knew earthquakes were possible, and I don’t think the whole psyche and course of the nation changed.

I was in Japan when that happened, too.

But I’m confusing myself.

The TV, again this year, is full of “tributes” and the occasional scathing coverage of those who are still living in temporary housing, mostly the elderly and disabled.

And again this year, I can’t watch any of it.

I don’t want to be reminded, thank you very much, of those few moments when I coldly and calmly faced the fear that my children and I would die in our living room and that there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. Nor do I wish to recall taking them to the store, whose shelves were bare, wearing surgical masks I’d soaked in water because they said on TV that helped prevent the inhalation of radioactive particles.

That person who did those things doesn’t seem like me. That doesn’t feel like my life. I’d like to get on with the memory repression process, NHK, if you don’t mind.

I was really hoping that Me Too would forget. I wanted her to be small enough when it happened to never have to relive it again in that agonizing, fragmented way memory works.

But not too long ago, my phone’s earthquake warning went off. The kids dodged under the low table in the living room (we always keep it clear now,) and I came back from turning off gas and securing escape routes to find Me Too with tears of terror streaming down her face.

There was a tsunami warning afterward, and even though I assured her over and over that Yokohama was in the clear, she clung to me for the entire evening.

It must be hard to understand the futility of life, that things could change at any second, but not have the cognitive ability to assess the risk, or be able to know where you are on the map flashing on TV.

I’m so sad that this will probably be her first memory.

My first memories are of eating pudding when we went to visit preschool for the first time, of wanting gold glitter but forgetting the word for that amazing color and saying “green” instead.

So, we won’t be watching TV at the Hamakko house today. If anything interesting happens, please call.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. gaijinwife
    Mar 11, 2013 @ 12:54:59

    Ours got turned off promptly when they started showing the tsunami footage – the same video that was played over and over and over again. Shou and I were talking about it though – after getting evacuation kit out yesterday and going through it again. All the way to kinder this morning he was looking out at the sea and talking about it. We weren’t even close but man it f**ked up my head for a good while. Can’t imagine what it must have done to yours!! So, no TV here today either. Well, the kids can watch GON at 6 perhaps.


    Mar 11, 2013 @ 18:45:53

    I’m so sorry you had to experience that!

    I am a single mother- although currently dating the most amazing man, but we haven’t gotten move-in-serious yet- who goes to school full times and works part time tellecommuting [although I’m looking for a 2nd, maybe even 3rd, job]. I plan on moving my son and I to Japanes after college- my boyfriend is planning on comeing on his own, our plans have always been seperate- and I was wondering two things: Could you let me know your thoughts on raising a family in Japan? Any advice? With all the extreme weather stuff going on, can you suggest a rural place, somewhere not too far away from a city, that would be a safe choice to live? Thank you, if you have time to answer this!

    I enjoy reading your blog!


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