It was October, 2005. I was in Hiroshima, in the restaurant on the top floor of a highrise hotel, having dinner. They sat me at a corner table, with a corner window that faced the night-lit city. Being that the hotel is on the water, the road stretched out, away from the hotel – I could see for miles.
My dinner companions, as they had been throughout my trip, were my pad and pen. I no longer have the pad, but I remember writing how I felt – the awe-inspiring enormity of being completely alone, thousands of miles away from everyone and everything I knew. Not a soul in the world who could recognize me and know my name knew where I was at that moment. When the waitress approached my table she bowed, placed a cushion on the floor and knelt to take my order. It was the same when she brought the food and cleared the table – bowing deeply before she knelt and when she stood. So so foreign.
Being completely alone, I discovered, is a surreal experience. With no responsibility to anyone but myself and the world – what felt like the entire world – stretched out before me, I was simultaneously a speck on the face of the earth and an entire universe in and of myself. I don’t remember if the fact that I looked out over a city that was once wiped out, turned to rubble, its innocent population murdered in a single explosion of proportions larger than any of us alive can imagine had anything to do with my perception of surreality that night, but I suspect it did.
But I was there. The place I’ve read of in the history books. Hiroshima, Japan. Anything could have happened there.