Leaves and Coincidences

~ a short memoir ~

  1. Late December, 2019

His large belly hangs over his knee-length shorts and he stands there, staring at me, as we wait for the elevator to arrive. 

‘How’s your day been?’ 

His Canadian accent wanders through his full beard. My internal processors fail to generate a response. He seems to radiate as my gaze slides over this impressive example of manliness. Warmth blooms inside, joy smooths nerves. 

‘Pretty good’, I reply, pupils dilating and voice deepening.

The elevator confirms my response with a cheery ‘ding’. The group of Australians waiting with us (I am always suspicious of coincidences. What’s the likelihood of all this happening off-season in Tokyo?) wander in. About three times my size, I follow my date through the doors, drinking in his pheromones and cologne. He positions himself across the elevator where he continues sizing me up. 

No, that’s definitely a mutual sizing up.

‘Great day for it.’ Australians: always ready to interject with smart-arsery.

Through my swirling warm glow, my manners register a required response.


Manners certainly are a great social invention. ‘How’s ya day been?’ I can feel my face warm while the spectators smirk at the live theatre.

‘Things appear to be goin’ well’, one of the Ozzies offers. His left eyebrow rises with his intonation.

‘That they are’, replies my date, staring right at me.

¥ Error 404: brain not found. 
> Syntax error. 
>> This system has experienced terminal services failure.
>>> Attempting to restart user sandbox.
>>>> Restart failed.
¥ Restarting system.

The elevator doors open and the Ozzies leave us with an, ”Ava good noight!’

We close in on each other as the doors close.

Falling into him
Falling leaves at year’s end
Year’s end begins.
A leaf falls onto a pond
Sunlight falls upon the leaf.


  1. Mid-February, 2020

‘Hey sexy man, how you doin’?’ he says.

Driving home from work he calls every evening, his time. Just by chance, my morning classes finish as he begins his commute. Tuesdays I devote an hour to walking up the long slope to Takanawadai Station for our interactions. 

‘Pretty good. I got some more of that ‘choose your own adventure’ story done. Wanna read it?’ 

‘Sure!’ His instant support is conveyed through the global telecommunications system.

‘I’ll send it to ya after I get home.’ My smile beams. He can’t see it, of course but it beams just the same. As an aside, a unique mannerism of someone who has begun integrating into Japanese culture is bowing while on the phone. It’s something I’ve done for years.

‘Cool. I’ll read it tonight.’

10,000 kilometres separate us but modern technology keeps us in contact. Buoyed by our connections, my stories continue flowing through my mind and out of my fingertips. 

Writing about technology, philosophy, creating worlds in the future and the past, progressing each story separately but simultaneously: I’ve never felt this focus. I’ve never had someone focus on me. This is the first time in my life that I feel creatively alive.

‘How’s the apartment hunting going?’ I can already see the rooms in my mind, already see us living in and moving through them.

‘Yah I think the gay area downtown is best. We won’t need a car if we live there’, he says. We’ve been discussing what we want in a living space and how we will deal with each other. We mutually agreed on a gaming room and an apartment with two if not three sides with windows.

We plan for me to arrive by my birthday at the end of May. This will allow us the time to coalesce our lives. Nothing short of death or a global pandemic can foil our plans!

Early Spring breezes
Melt recent patches of snow,
Leaves blown in the wind.
A leaf buds on a high branch,
Vibrant green in the sunshine.


  1. Early April, 2020

The 1st of April used to be New Year in Japan. It is still the start of the school year and the time for many Spring festivals. I leave Japan at traditional New Year.

Some friends come with me to the airport, but one, an ex, takes us to the wrong terminal despite being Japanese: clumsy boy! There was no rush in the end as we wait two hours for boarding to start.

Canada is pre-dawn so no call. 

My life is packed into two suitcases and my bike in a box on trolley wheels. The rest is in boxes in Tokyo Bay somewhere waiting to be put on a ship.

The fellow at customs takes 45 minutes explaining the dire consequences of re-entering the country with a permanent residency visa if I fill out the departure form incorrectly, then two airport staff whisk me past the darkened shops and all the way inside the plane.

‘Oh, can we get moved to first class?’ I eye the empty plane and the flight staff returns a look that could warp steel. I am about to be slapped.

The only other passenger is sat on the direct opposite side of the fuselage. Odd that in a crowded plane I never notice who sits where but this singular other is like a fingernail screeching down a blackboard the entire 9 hours of the flight.

The attendants rush through the safety dance.

Thousands of dollars lost and dozens of flights cancelled, this plane taxis onto the runway. Plan B was to stay in Japan and re-start my life and was looking increasingly likely. This global pandemic isn’t the same as 2002, it’s much worse. Trepidation fills me.

The seatbelt chime acknowledges my fear.

I never wanted to return to Australia and still don’t. Now I have the chance to revisit my past before my next adventure begins. Just a few months and I’ll be in Canada. I can be patient.

> Error 400: bad request.
>> User destination not found.
>>> Logic tree error.
>>>> Terminal reality crisis.
¥ Restarting system.

The plane surges forward and takes off. I hear his voice, ‘We’ve got this.’ 

Spring’s journey begins
But in the wrong direction.
Discord flows through me.
A leaf is blown in the breeze,
Up, alone, into the sky.