Here I am in Colombia’s capital Bogotá, at the beginning, before I’d learnt anything.
I go to a club with some of the people from the hostel. I’d read it was a bad idea to drink alcohol within your first forty-eight hours of being in the city because of the altitude. But this LA Girl with a loud voice and big hair who worked reception told me that we were all partying that night, and sometimes I have irrational levels of FOMO. So we’re at this club that’s playing mostly Latina music and it’s pretty small and kind of, like, not that exciting.
You told me once of parties in Colombia where tiny people walked round with trays of cocaine held above their heads. I ask the LA Girl if there’s somewhere I can get some. She says probably not; there’s security everywhere. Then she says, are you gay or bi by any chance because my friend Silvia has a huge crush on you. I look at Silvia dancing under the strobes with her chest and her elbows out. She’s got sparkling eyes and straight brown hair that falls down to her ass like a prized horse’s tail. She’s beautiful.
“Not really,” I say to the LA Girl.
“Not really?” she says.
Silvia buys me beers all night and speaks to me in Spanish and cock blocks every guy that comes up to me, which is okay because mostly they have gelled-up hair and polo shirts with the collars popped.
Do you remember how we used to ride home down Ruckers Hill as the city blinked orange under the three a.m. sky?
Tell me stories about Japan. I never told you it was there everything fell apart, right before the earth shook poison into the Fukushima air. We were in Hiroshima and it happened like the flowering of the cherry blossoms: at first slowly and then as if in an instant, overnight, and all at once. We both cried into our soup. Him, probably because of the situation between us. Me, a vegetarian, because I’d been served fish. In the days that followed we carried on as if we were out of our bodies. Like ghosts with no shadows we collected paper cranes. Then when we regained control of the mechanics of movement I went north and he went south and that was that.
I want to draw you a postcard from next week. This is what it looks like: he’s stretched out across the back seat of his best friend’s car, his head on my lap. You can’t see this in the picture but there’s some shitty Britpop song or maybe Tupac on the stereo and the Colombian wind is rushing at us through the open window.
Here I am, at the beginning, when all context has evaporated and anything seems possible.
In the grey morning Silvia and I share her last cigarette in the gutter. The lights are still stuttering in our eyes and our thighs are touching. We don’t really say much, both of us probably hoping for someone else in the other. I can hear rain hitting the creek three stories below my bedroom. A storm is about to break. I can feel it. Let’s put on raincoats and jump out the window.
I miss you.
I am standing in the kitchen of this studio apartment in Osaka. Outside it is grey. My computer is inside this cupboard where the bowls and cups and saucers normally go. I have opened the cupboard doors and am typing to you from here. Normally I would sit and write at a desk with my computer elevated to eye level so I don’t get headaches but there is no desk and nothing to elevate my computer so I am using the cupboard.
When I read your letter I kept thinking the word ‘hot’. Not like in terms of the weather or people or the way people look or the spices you are maybe putting in your food, but I guess in terms of how things can move very quickly. Does this make sense? I feel I’m about to segue into ‘particles’ and ‘atoms’ and how they move very quickly when they are excited and I guess that would make sense, except I have no interest in those things. And now I am rambling. I also realise this paragraph makes no sense. Maybe I mean: sometimes things don’t make sense and that’s okay. Yeah. I don’t know.
There were parts of your letter that felt ‘cinematic’; that felt like the movies. Thank you for letting me see a scene from your life. I like how you can meet a person you would never normally meet and have them cock block you from tons of willing people with gelled hair because of their own vested interests. And how, in the end, that can be a good thing.
I remember meeting some of the best people in Colombia, mostly in Bogotá, around Halloween. They made me feel truly welcome. Eating and drinking and talking together around a bonfire looking over the lights of the city. How we saw Bloc Party for free and danced together in the rain. I felt like I belonged. Like I’d known those people for longer than was possible. I still talk to them even though I met them maybe six years ago. Do you think you will still be talking to Silvia in six years? I hope you will. I hope in six years we will all be speaking to someone we met six years ago. It seems important to me for some reason.
My computer is inside this cupboard where the bowls and cups and saucers normally go. I have opened the cupboard doors and am typing to you from here.
I spent the last week or so up north in Hokkaido. First I went to Sapporo. On my first night in Sapporo I met this Malaysian guy in my dorm room. He is a software engineer, or a programmer, or does something to do with computers. I can’t remember. He told me he could speak Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian and English. I was pretty glad to meet him because I don’t speak any Japanese and felt like a bit of a dickhead for coming to Japan and not knowing any Japanese.
That night we went out drinking. We went to four or five different bars. We drank beer, whisky and hot sake. He spoke about this Japanese girl he met the last time he visited Japan. He told me how me she is in America now. I asked if he was sad he couldn’t see her and he said, “sort of”. I did a head nod thing that meant oh, what do you mean? and he said he wasn’t into the idea of a girlfriend because “you always have to take them with you places and yeah”.
I sort of thought, who’s the dickhead now? But then I thought, who am I to judge anyone? After a few more beers I thought everyone is a dickhead, sometimes.
Anyway, after Sapporo I went to Asahikawa to go snowboarding for one week. When I left Sapporo it was snowing so much I couldn’t see in front of me. It was beautiful. In Asahikawa it had just finished snowing and it was sunny the whole time. I went to three different resorts. A lot of the time I snowboarded by myself, but sometimes I met other people. At Asahidake resort I went snowboarding with some professional snowboarders from America and Japan. It was wild. We hiked to this mountaintop and took turns snowboarding down. Each time someone went down everyone would scream “WOYW”. Life, for me right now, feels a lot like that.
Katia, we are still riding down Ruckers Hill. Can you feel it? I can hear us. We are screaming “WOYW, WOYW, WOYK” like motherfucking champions.
I miss you dearly.
Oliver Mol is a Sydney-based writer. He has lived in Houston, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. He was the co-winner of the 2013 Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers and was the recipient of a 2012 Hot Desk Fellowship. His début book Lion Attack! is out through Scribe Publications.
Katia Pase is the co-founding editor of Stilts journal and literary collective, and editor of Going Down Swinging. She has presented at the Wheeler Centre’s Debut Mondays, the Brisbane Writers’ Festival, the National Young Writers’ Festival, and at Avid Reader salons. In 2013 she co-programmed the Emerging Writers’ Festival Hobart Roadshow.