The Land of Scanning (Who I Am)

I was lost. Someone asked me today, “Who are you?” I didn’t know.

I answered them. I filled the silence with my usual spiel. But when I thought about it, I really didn’t know.

I walked home. Changed clothes. Fed the dog. Checked my email, Facebook, and finished some left over work. I brushed my teeth, washed my face, and went to bed. I did the same things in the same order, the same way every night.

But tonight was different. The question weighed on my mind.

Who are you?

I closed my eyes so tight that instead of darkness I saw bokeh reflections of my memories.

I scanned through them searching for one to remind me of who I am. It was like I had transported to another land. The scanning started with my most recent memories and went backwards.

At first it was like I was watching the same thing on repeat but I was just wearing a different outfit. I felt like I lived the same day over and over again. How can something be so familiar yet feel so strange at the same time?

Then I was in college. My friends and I were in the car driving to the coast with all the windows down and the music playing so loud we couldn’t hear each other talk. I watched myself, smiling, happy; free as we wildly drove into the night.

I remember now. A little piece of me from that night. A part that likes to hold my hand out of the window and feel the brush of the wind press against it as we sped faster on the highway. Something about being able to control the movement of my hand even against the strength of the wind, gave me a sense of control I never wanted to let go of. I was free but I was also in control.

Then I was alone in my childhood room. I scanned back farther in this land immune to time. Twelve years old. Banging and screaming was coming from the other side of the locked door. Tears streamed from my red face and I prayed for someone to rescue me. I remembered another piece of who I am. I have to rescue myself. We can hope for expectations in others but they rarely live up to them. We can only depend truly, entirely on ourselves. I scanned back to today and I was lying in my bed again. The parts of me that are strong, independent, free, in control, reliable, vulnerable, hopeful in spite of pain, and courageous in spite of fear. That is who I am and so much more. It’s not something that can be answered so simply. I’m sure that someone only wanted my name. But I am more than my name.

Meiko Kaji (梶芽衣子) in a press photo for Between Women And Wives (妻と女の間), 1976, directed by Kon Ichikawa (市川崑) and Shiro Toyoda (豊田四郎) .

Scanned from the February 1976 issue of Gekkan Shinario (月刊シナリオ).