Yukatas for Dummies

The night I dropped my phone in the toilet, I wrote a post which demonstrates my frantic thoughts and feelings about its potential loss.

Is that sad, to be so distraught about losing a phone?  It’s just a thing, right?  But it was my means of communicating with my people; it was my online community, for better or worse; it stored all my memories—in the form of photos that had not yet been backed up.

It would cost hundreds of dollars to replace … and how would I get to the Apple store again?  I was only planning to spend 12 more hours in Tokyo, and the store would be closed during that window.

Blah, blah, blah, my mind went on, wearing a groove in my brain, undoubtedly.

Using my laptop, I read that putting your cell phone in rice may be a short-term fix, but that the minerals in the rice can cause longer term problems.  So I wrapped my phone up like a baby, put it on top of the TV for warmth, and tried to not look at it.

That night I got about three hours of sleep.  It was the usual boring Restless Legs.  I had piled up six futons in an attempt to create some padding.  They were all firm around the edges and saggy in the middle.  My head and feet were well supported while the rest of me drooped down to the hard tatami floor. Turning over was a major operation.

Finally, I couldn’t stop wondering what time it was and if I’d wake up in time for the meditation.

I needn’t have worried about not having an alarm.  A gong began to sound for the morning meditation at 5:30.  I rolled off the futon onto my knees, then slowly rose to a standing position.  Yep, I could still walk.  I hobbled to the sink and brushed my teeth, slurped down a cup of instant coffee, threw on the yukata, and half slid, half stumbled down the steep stairs.

A half dozen people stood on one side of the cavernous main hall, where the man in black was collecting visitors to lead us to the inner shrine.  From across the hall, he spotted me and shouted, “Yukata, no!” while making dramatic gestures with his arms in case I didn’t understand.  Everyone stared.  I did a 180 and scurried back up to my room.  How could I have made such a mistake?!  I threw on some clothes and joined the group, keeping my head down.

I have already described the meditation, which was intense, beautiful, and really did take me away from my stinkin’ thinkin’ for at least part of the hour.

No one made mention of The Yukata Incident.  They’re focused on the meditation, not me, I thought.  It’s not about me.

Afterwards, I wandered through the shrine with the Aussie wife who had dined next to me the previous evening and a young woman from Chicago who had blue hair.  I could tell the Aussie woman wanted to hang out more.

I felt a familiar internal tug-of-war.  I want to be with people but I also want to be alone.

But it was time for breakfast, so we all retired to our respective private dining room.  Breks was every bit as spectacular as dinner but you’ll have to take my word for it since I no longer had a camera.

On the positive side, you won’t be subjected to my horrid photos for a while.

As I passed Mick and Mary’s dining room—for those were their names, I would learn—they hailed through their open door.  I hesitated, then did what I do when I’ve been traveling alone for a few days—started babbling about everything I’d seen and done and not done.  They took it in stride.

I let them get a few words in and learned this was their fourth time in Japan and second time at the monastery.

I knew if I hesitated a bit, they might invite me to spend the day sightseeing with them.

“I have to run to a Skype call,” I lied.

“Be sure to attend the fire meditation,” Mary called after me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s