I started writing my last post during an evening train ride after reading some excerpts from Patti Smith’s M Train. I finished the post on the train ride back during an afternoon.
On the train, he was sitting across from me, his laptop between us. Which is a more rare occurrence than one would expect. He promised that he will write to me at least one bad poem this coming year.
We talked about Murakami, the author’s love of jazz, and how he likes fried oysters but his wife doesn’t so he must eat them alone.
At the Koriyama event, Murakami said he wanted to discuss fried oysters, a favorite food of his. Unfortunately, his wife hates fried foods, so he has to fry the oysters himself.
“The fried oysters I eat by myself are delicious, but I am also lonely,” Murakami said. “I am lonely, but they are delicious. Like the relationship between solitude and freedom, it moves in an endless cycle. Picking out single words that are contained within me is also a solitary act (so writing novels) is similar to eating fried oysters by myself. When my mind grows pressured when I think that I am writing a novel, I feel more relaxed when I think that I am only frying oysters.”
As we disembarked together, a copy of the train’s publication caught my eye. The magazine cover happened to feature an interview with Patti Smith on writing M Train. I grabbed it and clutched it throughout the night, reading parts of it while in transit.
I looked up Murakami’s Twitter account and saw his tweet about fried oysters. I absentmindedly saved one of the pieces of writing by a different author he had retweeted.
I have just taken a train to SoHo in the afternoon on a whim. It’s overcast, and I am thinking a lot about how I generally try not to think as much before deciding to do something. Ironically.
If I think about going somewhere, I just get on the train and do it so that I don’t waste time in limbo. I’ve structured everything so that I don’t even have to think about what train to get on or what exit to find, I just do it. There are moments when I find myself hesitating, but I try to keep walking. While thinking this, I am doing that thing where I read and walk at the same time. I find the fiction piece that Murakami retweeted:
“How can either the past or future orient me? As in control me?”
“You could call it that, but control is too strong a word. Control. It sounds better in French. Contrôle. Think about it this way: some people are always looking towards tomorrow, their backs rigidly to the past. Others choose to swim in the backwaters of the past. It all boils down to an unconscious game of pinball.”
I stared at her, seeking further clarity.
“Let’s use another point of reference, instead. Let’s say there’s a train station. And everyday a train arrives in the depot at the same time. In life, there’s three type of people. Those who immediately get on board no matter where the train is going. Then there’s the second type, who hesitate slightly and wait for the next one to come before getting on.”
“And the third type?”
“Yes, the third type. Well they’re a tad odd. They’re ones who endlessly keep waiting. The ones who never get on board. The people who think a train that’s already passed may come back around again.”
I read to the end. More about trains. I stare for a while at the last line (you’ll have to read it to see what I mean).
I grin as I finish writing this while walking out of the subway. Patti Smith wafts from within some store. I almost expected it. “Because the night belongs to lovers…”
There are Christmas trees on every corner. People moving around me, cocooning me in New York City’s endless cycle of solitude and freedom. I put on my headphones to listen to some jazz and make a mental note to eat fried oysters with my grandmother when I see her again in Taiwan. The train roars onward without interruption, underneath my moving feet.