NOTES: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual people and places is unintentional.


Today is graduation day. Was. Would have been.

I hurriedly survey the bay where I grew up in the brief flashes I'm given. I look for my house, my elementary school, my junior college where I just spent two years studying to be an aide to the elderly, the senior citizen center where I'm due to start working this Friday...

I can't find anything that I recognize. The town hall, where our school's graduation ceremony was supposed to be held still stands, but no one will be entering that building today. No one will be wearing a spring-hued kimono or a smartly pleated hakama or a formal suit and tie.

Our graduation ceremony was scheduled for March 15th.

The tsunami arrived four days earlier and canceled everything.

My friends and I were snowboarding up north - celebrating the upcoming freedom from our studies - when the earthquake hit. Then we heard the news about the tsunami; we heard that it was coming. I called my mom. She answered her cellphone on the tenth ring and, breathlessly, told me to stay put.

I haven't heard from her since.

Now I sit in my hotel room in a place that is not home and stare at the pictures on the TV. My hometown is nothing but mud and sticks of broken timber and gutted cement buildings covered in seaweed. I try to understand but can't: there is no home for me to go back to. The hakama I'd picked out, my appointment at the hair salon at 7 a.m. this morning, the graduation ceremony...

It's all gone.

And I don't know what to do. I feel like the two years I'd spent at the junior college should have prepared me for the world - that's what they'd promised when I'd registered for classes - but this world... such as it is now... I don't know this place. I don't know how to live here.

I'm not ready.


NOTES:

1. A ladies hakama is typically worn for college and university graduation ceremonies and also for Coming Of Age Day in the month of January after turning 20 years of age (becoming an official adult) in Japan.

2. Please see my homepage on livejournal (and select the Tag: "march 11 japan") to see an image of hakama and also a photo of a city on the coastline of northeastern Japan that inspired this scene.