Lost in Tokyo, I approached the metro ticket booth. Behind the perforated glass, the agent asked if he could help. I struggled to explain where I was staying and heard myself say Jimbocho Station. Nodding, he motioned for my rail pass. As I dug inside my pockets, my anxiety grew. Where was it? And for that matter, where was I?
The answer escaped me. Instead, swirling in my mind was a void, a presence of emptiness made in the wake of my father’s recent passing. Light streaks traced over blurred recollections of abrupt international travel back to my childhood home, where I helped care for him until he was no more. Deepening the immensity of emotional whiplash, I returned to my apartment in Seoul only to discover my partner had betrayed our wedding vows.
Wishing to escape the gravity of grief and infidelity, I booked a cheap ticket to Tokyo. But now there, I found escape was a fleeting specter like a spider web caught adrift in the wind to which I remained entangled. My life felt simultaneously in the air and weighed down by the turbulence of heartbreak.
Reality returned to me as my fingers brushed over my rail pass card in the bottom of my camera bag. I slid it under the metro booth window and listened to the ticketing agent's voice echo through the intercom.
“You need more for fare adjustment. One moment, please.”
While the agent made his calculations, I wondered how much more the toll would be.