Meditations for Queer Femmes – Before the Lilac Faded

Last month, I spent about two weeks in Sapporo, visiting Owen, our younger son. He’s been there just about a year, studying Japanese and working part time, most recently at a ramen shop. He’s having a blast.

I was determined to go see him, but it felt practically impossible what with one thing and another like health challenges and anxiety, family responsibilities, logistics, ongoing pandemic stuff, and more. What I’m saying is that it wasn’t easy to put the whole thing together and then to put myself on a plane. Not easy in the least. High level stress, I am telling you.

With the love and blessing and helping hand of my husbutch I arose one morning in May and was off to the airport. Boston to San Francisco. Stayed overnight there and saw friends from my writing program. Heavy lift! San Francisco to Sapporo, going through customs in Tokyo. Heavy, heavy lift. Plus, I would not have liked for the zombie apocalypse to have broken out while I was waiting in that crowded customs area. And then, there was Owen, waiting for me at the New Chitose Airport and, people, there was I, right smack back in Japan after all these many, many years.

Because I used to live there when I was about Owen’s age, mid-20s, batting around Tokyo teaching English and going to see lots and lots of bands. We joke that I contaminated Owen when he was a child with my love of Japan and the prevalence of miso soup in our household.

Spring in Sapporo is so lovely. Not so much the city itself – cement-filled and noisy – but all around the edges and in the parks and in people’s small bits of yard. Peonies, poppies, iris, tulips, tiny daisy-like flowers in the grass, dandelions (right in there with the “real” flowers – so cheerful!), and every different flavor of lilac. I had been a bit sad to miss the cherry blossoms, but the lilac made up for it and more. I had but to step outside my rental to pass the lavender, the magenta, the white lilacs, and it became a sweet vacation ritual to stop and smell each one. In the nearby Maruyama Park, I found respite from the urban overwhelm and took comfort in all the blooming.

It had been a very heavy lift for me to get all the way across the world. Once I was there, I experienced another lift. A blessing of a lifting away of anxieties and responsibilities, a free floating moment where I just was. In the park. Eating a regal birthday meal with Owen. Moving through the steam at a hot spring. Exploring the neighborhood near my rental and finding a really cool grocery store where I bought the yummiest senbei. Laughing at the talking soft drink vending machine: “Thanks for stopping by! And hey! Don’t forget your change, ‘kay??”

Owen and I chilled and hung out and talked about learning Japanese and living in Japan. I met and really got along with his girlfriend. I spent long chunks of time alone and just being in Japan, remembering, relearning, experiencing. I had the most beautiful time, right up until it was time to go.

Had I been going to stay longer, I would have had to make some changes, stop drifting and figure out a few things, like how to eat more healthily, how to make some friends – preferably queer and my own age — and how to occupy my time a bit more productively. The cool thing is that I knew for sure that, if I had needed to stay, I would have been able to figure those things out. The other cool thing is that I didn’t have to do those things, because I was going home, refreshed and delighted to have spent time with Owen in the spring in Sapporo.

And the lilacs had not yet begun to fade.

I didn’t know how badly I needed a long, sweet break where I could just be myself. A brief suspension, bathed in the sweet scent of lavendermagentawhite, just for a little bit, just for a wee dear moment. How grateful I am that the goal of wanting to see Owen helped me to be able to move all that long distance, break free from the heavy grief and difficulties of the past few years, remember myself and find a lightness I haven’t felt in a long, long time.

For me, it was a long, long journey, a return to a place I used to live, a reunion with a dear beloved child. I am hopeful that I will retain that gift, find that lightness in and among my daily back in the groove. It was a catalyst, a blessing, a surprise.

Can I inspire you, my blossoms, to find a lightness in your day today, as well? Where are the cracks in the humdrum where you remember a connection, a commitment, a calling? Where a sunbeam illuminates bee-brim blossoms and you can rest, just for that profound small tick-tock and your heart beats and your lungs fill with air and you are alive so alive so alive.

Many a Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes, in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women. Would you like to offer up a Meditation of your own? I would love that! Send it along to me at

Published in: on June 5, 2023 at 3:37 PM  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: