Last night it happened again.
I awoke a number of times only for my dream to lie just out of reach. The same dream each time, the same cracked voice taunting me. The dream was the same but this time each had a different ending.
Don’t ask me the detail of my dream and what each ending was like. I cannot tell you, I do not recall what happened. I just remember that the content was the same and last night I spent the time between dreams trying to grasp the images and tie the endings together. Each time slumber would eventually come and then my distorted dream would bring me back to a form of wakefulness in order to taunt me.
My squalid 1LDK rental, far enough up an unfashionable train line to make it affordable, does nothing to draw me away from the pain the dreams have driven me to. Tepid rice porridge and instant coffee do nothing to sustain me as I pull a baggy jumper close and try to dodge the draughts coming from around the window sills. Heavy rain starts to beat against the panes.
I stretch, yawn and soon realise the folly. The months of living in such a small space, only leaving to buy the scantest of groceries, has taken its toll. The dreams, though, are a reflection of a greater malaise inside my heart. Unspeakable, unknowable but a cankerous presence.
The shower splutters as cold water dribbles over the designs left on my skin by the tatami mats. The thin mattress I previously lay on was discarded weeks ago. Under the trickle of water I try and wash away the accumulated grime since my last shower. The soap clings to my body, barely able to find enough water to summon the energy to depart. It is the only thing I know that wants to stay close to me.
The dream, its endings. I flick through my memories to find detail, connections, as I search and sniff out my cleanest clothes. Today is different.
Shinjuku. You know it, you just don’t know that you do. It has provided locations for many movies and in the 1950s Godzilla rampaged through its streets, The monster can still be found here today, if you want to see him.
Standing in Shinjuku station at the height of rush hour you can see me but don’t know it. A statue in the middle of the swathes of automaton, swerving me, avoiding me, occasionally knocking in to me. “Gaijin” and an expletive invariably follows. I am grit in the flow, set here as the people move around me but I feel the pull of acknowledgement too. Am I missing human interaction or is this the master of my dream showing me the error of my thoughts and ways?
I discover that the local police don’t like you standing in a public place for an hour. They bundle me up and march me around the corner to the nearest koban. As I sit in the cold and wet police box I stare back as I am admonished. I look through and beyond them, say nothing to the point that their frustration boils over and they pick me up and boot me out of the police box on to the sidewalk.
Lying against the walkway it feels more giving than my tatami. I can feel the sensation of the rain running down my face, blending my skin into the paving stones. The swift clatter of shoes and people making their way through the weather is all I sense as I try to sleep, meet my dream again. A firmly placed boot from a policeman moves me on.
Tochō stands before me. The dark grey edifice stretches skywards, designed by Kenzo Tange so that three quarters up the building it splits into two striking monoliths. It feels imposing.
The rain has stopped but my clothes are tatty and sodden. I stand in line but a small child playing up distracts security so I skip the queue and enter the elevator. I hit the button for the 45th floor.
The viewing platforms in the twin towers provide stunning views across Tokyo. On a good day Fujisan can be seen to the south. The viewing floor of the tower that is open is not very full. I order a coffee from the cafe and, despite the grimace from the server, I settle down to watch the vista before me.
I am only disturbed from my reverie when I hear school children. Their incessant chatter disturbs my attempts to find meaning from the sunlit panorama. Beyond the children the voice continues to call but the thread of my dreams evades me still. I leave the room and slowly ascend the stairs to the point where I can go no further. The faint trace of smoke suggests that this is the door used by the staff. I push and it gives slightly. I open the door, kick away the wood that held it ajar and let the door close behind me.
Although the sun has beaten away the cloud and rain the wind finds its way through me. It seems to reach deep inside, somewhere fundamental. The voice is still with me and the lost dream gnaws at me relentlessly.
Sun drenched, Tokyo looks majestic. Its magnificence is even clearer when not viewing it from behind glass. I run my hands through my hair and breath deeply.
The wind gusts. The ground rushes. A child screams.