On a hill in Otsuchi, Japan, high above the Pacific, a white, glass-paned phone booth stands. In view of the water that five years ago swept so many away, the “wind phone” is where those left behind may talk to the loved ones they lost.
The story takes me back more than thirty years, to the first dream I had of him, after.
In the dream we are on the phone, long-distance, and the sound is as if a wind blows through our words. Perhaps he is still in Paris; he’d been there for a week only a short time before. But we know that he is much further away than that, and that he is not going to be able to get back.
His voice is low, and I strain to catch it. He asks me if the money is there, do I have what I need, and if I am all right. I don’t remember now what I said; I’ve always thought it was something like, “Yes, all right.” Or, “Don’t worry.”
Those dreams became more precious as time went on. Around anniversaries—ten years, twenty, especially, for some reason, thirty—they come back. In these he is with me, but he can never speak. I want to tell him of everything that has happened since that far-away summer, when we were both so young.
In the dreams I always want to tell him of the Great Suffering. Why is that? To feel his comfort? As a gift to him? Because it is the thing I had to learn and do without him, the big thing, my own tsunami. I want to tell him how I almost drowned, and how somehow I did not. I want to tell him that perhaps things have come out well after all. I want to tell him I’m all right.
And then, in the dream, I remember that he has not been here all these years, and is still not here. I want to tell him that, no matter how much I have, I think of him.
Image is a screen capture from this short documentary.