Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Epileptic Imperial Wizard vs. End of Days

Note: a few weeks ago marked the one year anniversary of the calamitous earthquake/tsunami combo that rocked Japan last March,11th. Japan commemorated the moment and honored the dead, but really, unsurprisingly, it wasn't a lachrymose or indulgent affair. 

This is something I wrote a couple weeks after all the shit went down, last year. I didn't realize until I re-read it, but this experience sort of captures why I travel and why I hope I can always travel. Big ups to Japan. There's nowhere else in the world I'd rather be during a national tragedy. 

A cluster of middle schools girls was chasing a basketball when the earthquake hit. I watched them with a whistle in my mouth, only bothering to sound it when the ball traveled out-of-bounds. The technical basketball violations were coming in onslaught and this was my sixth straight hour of refereeing. I’d stopped caring.

The students of Toyooka Junior High School were still emitting cascades of enthusiasm though. Red and white bandannas wrapped around every small skull. Stomping feet and falsetto voices blasting choreographed chants and cheers that reverberated throughout the all-wood gymnasium. Colorful hand-painted banners hanging from the walls and ceiling. Teams in clashing neon jerseys. Cameras and twin-pronged peace/victory signs flashing. Girls yelping “ganbatte” and boys harassing each other through megaphones. Special-ed students waving colossal flags, like pioneers on a new planet.