Friday, July 13, 2012

Someone's Parents

I haven’t called my parents since March 18th, which was about 2 weeks ago. At that time, my roommates and I had just escaped to Fukuoka. I told my parents on the phone then that since the nuclear situation was unclear, we had no idea if we were going back to Tokyo… Now that I am back though, I’ve been meaning to call them, but can’t because:

A. There is radiation in Tokyo.
B. I lost my job last week.
C. I have no savings.
D. I have no real plans past tomorrow.

All of these reasons mentioned above will just make them worry, much more than they are now, so I just can’t bring myself to do it… And I know why they haven’t called me yet. The reason is because they are testing me like they always do. For the past 2 weeks, they have been waiting for my call. Even though they are dying to hear from me, they won’t try to reach out because what’s more important for them is the test - the test to see if I am a good son or not, which, unfortunately, I have been failing my whole life so far...

Some Trees

Last winter, I went home to America for Christmas. With me, I was carrying a new book that I was featured in, which was packed safely in a padded envelope tucked away in my suitcase. The book was Susan Bright’s Autofocus released by Thames & Hudson. Yes, that’s right – Thames & Hudson… And to top that off, my picture, as well as my face, was on the cover. Finally I had something to show them I thought. Finally I could prove to my parents that the past 7 years I spent wandering and taking photographs had amounted to something.

After I had arrived home and began checking my email, my mom mentioned that she had just started a Facebook account and had finally learned how to use Google, which led her to my site – by which site she was talking about, I wasn’t sure because I have many, but I was hoping for the love of god that she hadn’t discover my project My Little Dead Dick. Well, she kind of confirmed it when she said right after that it broke her heart as well as my dad’s… and that he had said that it was pornography - not art. I tried to explain it, but eventually just gave up. The subject wasn’t mentioned again until Christmas Eve.

My dad was doing pretty good for the next few days by holding off about asking me what my future plans were for life, which he always did since photography was just a hobby in his eyes. There were times though when he had to force himself not to, which was all thanks to my sister - she had forewarned him not to say anything earlier. The reason why was because when my sister picked me up from the airport, I had confessed to her that I had already been torturing myself with my dad’s question everyday in Japan, so I couldn’t handle hearing it from him as well; and because I knew that he must ask me this question every time I’m home, I never wanted to come back anymore. I also told her how I hadn’t been able to sleep from stress and was seriously becoming fucked up in the head… Well, actually, my sister told my mom all of this, and then my mom told him that… Anyways my dad was trying his best to control himself and to keep the holidays happy.

On Christmas Eve, my sister and her fiancée told me that it was a good time to show my parents Autofocus because they knew I had been waiting for the right moment, and that it would probably impress them, so I went to my room, took it out of the suitcase, and brought it to the dining room table. My sister called my mom and dad to come over and have a look. Well, only mom got up from watching TV, so I showed it to her and tried to explain it: I tried to tell her how Susan Bright, the editor, had previously made authoritative books on photography that art students were forced to read; and since that was the case, in a way, I kind of made it into photo history (I was exaggerating a bit)… I also explained that Thames and Hudson was one of the top three art book publishers in the world (I was guessing now), and that you could even find this book at the Barnes & Nobles in our own shitty town. To be honest, I had to give my mom credit because while she flipped through the pages of the book, she tried her best to look impressed even though she didn’t understand what I was saying …

Well, while this was going on, my dad was watching TV nearby pretending not to know that the rest of the family was talking about my work. Finally, my sister called him over, and he slowly got up and sauntered over to the table with his arms crossed. Even though my mom had the book in her hands, he was looking over my sister’s shoulder at something else. As I was facing my mother, I pretended not to be watching him the whole time from the corner of my eyes. He slowly reached out and picked up the big yellow envelope, which I had used to keep the book safe from damage, which was also the original envelope that Thames and Hudson had sent to my house… And I kept watching him while he studied it until he finally said something.

“Is this your address?” he asked without looking at me. He asked me that because I had forgotten to give it to him after I'd moved to my new place a couple months back.

“Yes…” I replied hesitantly.

After examining it some more, he put the envelope back on the table, and then wandered off back to the TV leaving me crushed. While trying to hold back my tears, my mom continued to flip through the pages, pretending to understand who this person was and what he had done – this person sitting in front of her called her son.

Now, back in Tokyo, I wonder who will give in first... about this battle over a phone call.

*Note: After I wrote this last sentence, I noticed I had some toilet paper stuck on the side of my finger.

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