tokyo embraced me like an estranged mother, all warmth and familiarity and unconditional welcome. half-mad notions burst from reunion’s glowing ardor and coursed through a mind still floating tenuously in the outer rings of the hour: reasons for staying, reasons for leaving, projections and fantasies on the other side of the dawn. this time I could do things differently, and we could be different. better. but prolonged absences have an uneasy tendency to create new, unreliable realities from the fog of long-lost memories—and a mother’s love can be heavy, our relationship asymptotic. as that initial glow faded, the hug of early september heat became stifling and overcompensating, and this love made me drained and wary yet again. oh, but it was love, undeniably so; despite the years spent so comfortably apart, it always would be.