‘This whole earth which we inhabit is but a point in space. How far apart, think you, dwell the two most distant inhabitants of yonder star, the breadth of whose disk cannot be appreciated by our instruments? Why should I feel lonely? Is not our planet in the Milky Way?
- Henry David Thoreau, Walden
It is ten minutes to eight in Tokyo, Japan, and just outside Shibuya station, two thousand five hundred people stand around an intersection, silently. Cars crisscross in every direction, while the little man on the post glows red. In the crowd stands a girl the moon has always followed, wherever she went.
The intersection clears, the red man turns green. Suddenly the crossing comes alive. Like a choreographed dance, the crowds flow onto the street in every direction from every side. Countless nameless, faceless individuals cross paths, as countless lives and trajectories intersect. The meeting is ordered, illusory and brief. And miraculously quiet, collision-free. A few seconds later the little man turns red again, the human wave disintegrates; its particles have crossed the street and gone their separate ways.
The little girl now stands, alone again, at the entrance of the station’s Exit 8. Hachiko exit, she knows it well. Named after the dog who followed Hidesaburō Ueno to the station and back home every day. Glancing up from a sea of 13.6 million, she greets the moon who has followed her overhead. On the other end of her phone and fourteen time zones away, I also watch our mutual friend.
The girl and the moon first met when she was two, in the back seat of a car driving home. The world at night is a sad and lonely place for most, even brave little girls. She watched patches of sky and buildings whiz past, unfamiliar and dark, feeling very much alone till she noticed a big bright ball, bobbing along at the pace of the car.
Of all the girls in all the cars in the world that were driving home that night, the moon had chosen to follow her. It turned left when she did, stopped at red lights as well, neither outpacing her nor falling behind. It parked outside her bedroom window discreetly, and stayed after the lights went out.
That night the girl fell asleep less little, less alone in a sad and lonely world. The next day and ever since, she grew and went on adventures, went on adventures and grew. And the moon went along.
She traveled to cities power cuts turned pitch black, and language barriers turned quiet and strange. She learned that empty apartments were cold to come home to, dinners for one were the same. She packed suitcases and lives and returned front door keys, got on planes and trains to who knows where, leaving pieces of furniture, sometimes of her heart, and versions of herself behind. But she kept going, with the moon close behind, making friends and memories and discoveries, facing the unknown and coming across beautiful hiking trails.
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
It is nine minutes to eight on a Thursday night, and one minute ago, two thousand five hundred people crossed the Shibuya scramble, the busiest intersection in the world. Among them was a girl the moon has always followed, wherever she went.
The girl now walks on, past the statue of Hachiko, her own companion close behind. If I were the moon I would follow her too, but this is her adventure, not mine.
In life as on Shibuya sidewalks, most paths are only wide enough for one. She walks up her own, away from the crowd, to ‘an otherwise unreachable experience of reality,’ an understanding of what it is to be.
it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you.
- e.e.cummings, [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
On the other end of the line, fourteen time zones away, I can see her moon too, and hear the singing of her quiet world fill my own. I am less alone.