Four years after Rin left, Hisao finds himself in Tokyo for graduate school, hopeful that the passage of time can help heal an old wound.
Table of Contents:Part One
- On a train to Tokyo, Hisao reflects on the four years since Rin left.Part Two
- Hisao meets his new roommates.Part Three
- Rin's degree advisor gives Hisao a tour of a new exhibition.Part Four
- Hisao's first day in graduate school.Part Five
- The night of the Geidai exhibition is here!Part Six
- Hisao starts working in a lab.Part Seven
- Rin and Hisao discuss the Schrodinger equation, entropy, and past relationships.Part Eight
- Sumi confesses to Hisao some tension between her and her husband.Part Nine
- Hisao misses Rin for lunch, and Prof. Adachi gives some insight into Rin's state of mind.Part Ten
- To bond with Rin, Hisao recounts his time at Yamaku after she left.Part Eleven
- Rin locks herself in her studio, and Prof. Adachi goes to Hisao to ask her to come out.Part Twelve
- Hisao tries to help mend Ryou and Sumi's relationship.Part Thirteen
- Hisao makes a mistake in the research lab.Part Fourteen
- Reinvigorated, Hisao visits Rin in her studio again to set things right.Part Fifteen
- Hisao talks Sumi into confronting Ryou...and into making a serious concession.Part Sixteen
- A run-in with chaos theory gives Hisao insight into his future career plans.Part Seventeen
- After a few days of deliberation, Rin visits Hisao at his apartment, trying to find guidance and comfort from him. (Explicit Content
- Hisao awakens the next morning, with Rin nowhere to be found...or is she?DoodlesChapter One
To this day, I still don't understand art.
Since I'm the only one in this traincar sketching in the margins of my notebook, I know that must sound strange. First term hasn't even begun, and I'm taking up space on all these clean sheets of paper, too. Talk about getting a head start on passing the time.
I get the feeling drawing isn't a popular diversion. I think most people feel they can't do it correctly, but there isn't really a right way or a wrong way. If you keep your goals modest, does it matter if you draw a person's head too large or the legs too small? Yeah, some know-it-all art major might say you don't know anything about good techniques, but for me, it's not about that. I don't pretend to be capable of the next Mona Lisa
. I sketch things in my notebooks now and then—sometimes with pens way too thick to do anything precise—because it's a good distraction, because it helps me focus on something. Sometimes, I remember lectures better because I know what I was drawing while I wasn't really paying attention at the time. Weird, right?
But just because I can draw half-decent sketches and doodles doesn't mean I understand art. I don't, and I realized I don't have to. Everyone has their own interpretation of a work. Mine just happens to be abject bewilderment most of the time.
I don't draw to have my doodles understood, though. I'm not even really an artist. I studied physics in undergrad. In some ways, it's very different. There's a problem to be solved, and maybe you don't know how to solve it (or even what the problem is), but there's a clear goal in mind for every situation. As my optics professor said once, "If you're going to stand naked in front of a window in broad daylight, you'd better be sure more sunlight reflects than passes through, or else the police will quickly be at your door. Luckily, I can teach you the principles needed to figure out just that."
…he was actually one of the saner ones, too.
Believe it or not, though, art and science have a lot in common, too. In the end, nothing we find with science matters if we can't get the ideas across to others. With art, it's not necessarily idea. It could be a feeling you want to express, but the concept is the same. A mathematical equation or a painting on a canvass are both ways to communicate something that requires more than just words to express.
I knew someone once who found words all but impossible to work with.
And I'm going to see her.
I haven't spoken to her in years, not since a rainy day in the summer of my third year in high school. I've known for some time where she went after that—the art teacher, Nomiya, was all too proud of what Rin had accomplished, and he'd tell anyone who wanted to hear about her scholarship offer in Tokyo. She was his prized pupil, after all, and as sad as it was that she'd left him, he beamed with pride at even the mention of her name.
Rin wasn't like other people, though. She didn't care to stay in touch with people. She may have thought there was nothing to say. I've heard from other students from Yamaku now and then. Shizune has a business degree, but she spends a lot of time doing charity events and other good work like that. Mutou tells me Misha teaches sign language at Yamaku, and just by thinking about her, I can hear her laughter echoing through the halls. Rin's friend Emi is all over the Internet with photos of her running marathons all over the world. She's a personal trainer, and I think she must be happy drawing up dietary plans and exercise regimens for her clients.
I made a point to catch up with some friends of mine from home, too, once I graduated from Yamaku. Iwanako is married now, to a man I don't know, but I sent her my congratulations, which she accepted cordially. We've never discussed the letter she sent me after I left—or my short reply, which in hindsight I realize was altogether inadequate. To be honest, after all this time, I don't know what either of us would say.
Things are what they are, I guess. They're neither right nor wrong; there's only your willingness to change them, if you choose to.
That's part of why I'm on this train, surrounded by strangers who have no interest in my doodles. A couple pieces of luggage are all I have with me—barely more than what I brought to Yamaku. I might have to go back to my parents' house to pick up some more things later on. Yes, definitely. Home isn't where the heart is; it's where your stuff is. I've learned that well.
I say Rin is part
of the reason I'm coming to Tokyo because even if she weren't there, I'd have a good reason to go. Come Monday, I'll be a student in the physics master's program at University of Tokyo. It's daunting, being at the best school in the country. Already, I've heard horror stories from former students about professors humiliating them during presentations. Even one derisive snort while you're up there, standing before a panel of professors to explain and defend your research, could be soul-shattering. I hardly want to think about it. I've got nearly two years of work to do before I reach that point.
Still, I'm proud and honored just to be facing that challenge. I realized, after Rin left, that I'd thought she was an artist who made art for the sake of it. As difficult as she always was to understand, I couldn't have misjudged her more. I thought she was a person who could just put everything else aside because she had clear talent, because there was something she knew she could do. That's not Rin at all, though. All along, she was trying to find herself, and the process nearly destroyed her. I couldn't just hang around her and hope for a magic sense of purpose to fall into my lap, especially after she left. I buckled down and focused on what I wanted to do. Mutou helped with that a lot, and lo and behold, here I am.
If I look at my reflection in the train window, I think all I'd have to do to look like him is grow some stubble and put on a world-weary stare. Heh. What's scary is that I don't think I'd mind that.
Overall, I'm not going to get my hopes up. I'd be fine just seeing Rin once, saying hello, catching up, and going our separate ways again for a few years. That's what adults do, after all, right? They maintain friendships over decades, not needing to talk to someone every day or every other day or even less than that.
I realize I don't sound very convincing when I say that. Adulthood still puzzles me sometimes.
In the train, some of the passengers are starting to wake up. The lights flicker. A young girl in the row ahead me points and calls to her father. "Look, look, Daddy, the tower!"
The orange-and-white metal tower dominates the view. I've heard it's painted that way because of air safety, but that doesn't make a lot of sense. The Eiffel Tower doesn't have to be painted. There must be an explanation; it's something I'll have to look up, I guess. Still, I can't imagine the Tokyo Tower looking any other way. I quickly try to sketch it in my notebook, but it's difficult with other buildings zipping past. Maybe I can capture that with some kind of blur….
But it all zooms by in too much of a hurry. Before long, we're pulling into the train station, and I need to pack my things. Two bags? Check. Notebook? Check. Address card? Check. There's one more thing, though, and I pat my pocket to be sure it's there. As the train rolls to a stop, I pull it out just to check it's really what I think it is. It's a flyer—well, a flyer printed out on an ordinary sheet of paper, so the texture is smooth, not glossy.
"Tokyo University of the Arts — Opening Exhibition," reads the title, and the background is a cubist rendition of a man's face, in blue instead of skin tones. Apparently it's an annual tradition at the school to have the new students meet their peers through their work.
I can't think it's great advertising to put a bunch of students' names down as featured artists if no one knows who they are, but all I need to see is Rin's name to know where I'll be Monday night.
The train stops, and I close my notebook with the sketch of the Tokyo Tower unfinished. I'm okay with that. There's plenty of time to finish something once it's started.
Even if it takes me over four years to do it.