P—W  V° 02:02

Sitting in a café on March 9th, 2022

by Aiko Masubuchi

I once read that the room in the house that we refer to as the “living room” was only called this after it was called the “death room” during an influenza outbreak post-WWI.  It was where westerners kept the dead—in the least used room in the house where traditionally, those who could afford it, entertained their guests.

A person who signifies a very specific memory of youth for me, of cans of Arizona green tea, of hand-woven friendship bracelets, and of the smell of an ocean that was inaccessible for swimming but was connected to the same beach whose waves my dad lost his glasses in, recently said to me that he was touched that I told him that my mother died. “I don’t know if this is your experience, but in America, there’s a tendency to avoid talking about the death of close ones, like there’s pressure you’ll bum everyone out,” he said.  I realized then in the ten years since, I had come across more deaths than he had. What is that gulf? The living room—arising from the space of many deaths?

To think of the many deaths that may have occurred and will occur in living rooms, in the shelled out houses in Ukraine, in the wars that may come, in the wars we have caused by the thoughts that we may or may not have, in the actions we may or may not take. What other deaths are replaced by living?

My good friend’s grandmother died the same week his wife, the one who cried the most at the funeral, became pregnant with their child.

I’m excited and terrified, he said.
I’m excited and terrified, I thought.

If I am one result of many histories, if I am but a drop in this ocean.

2022 © A.Masubuchi