Aoi Matsuri 2016 葵祭 por Patrick Vierthaler Por Flickr: One of Kyoto’s three major festivals, culminating in a huge costume parade on May 15th, leading from the Imperial palace to Shimogamo and Kamigamo shrine.
This year, I watched the parade from Kamigamo shrine’s entrance. While I originally hoped to get a spot inside the shrine grounds, I realized that I was too late for any good camera spot with trees and the torii in the background. So instead I tried to focus on the individual participants rather than on the parade as such - due to the “contemporary background”.
From a photographic point of view, this was quite some practice for me as somebody, who mostly shoots landscapes, temples, etc.
He’s warm, Hajime thinks, as Tooru buries his face in his chest, arm sliding around to Hajime’s back and tugging him closer, until their bodies are pressed together.
He’s warm, even though he always complains about cold fingers and toes, and always uses it as an excuse to get up into Hajime’s personal space.
Not that he minds it. It’s always been this way, and just like how, with time, Hajime learned to read, write, and not to leave jars with bugs open in the living room, he’s learned to accept these kind of things (hands linked under the table, arms around each other under the covers and sometimes during lunch breaks when Tooru needs to recharge) as part of how the world works.
And honestly, there’s so many more of these truths, universal and reassuring. Like how Tooru’s tone of voice gives away more than his smile. Like how his eyes search for Hajime before a powerful serve. Like how he can deal with Shittykawa and Crappykawa and a whole host of other almost-hurtful nicknames as long as Hajime grabs his wrist on the way home (he’ll slow if he doesn’t, getting lost in his insecurities) and lets Tooru curl up into his side when they’re on his bed watching movies, sometimes with popcorn, sometimes with chocolate, sometimes with grapes and apple slices if Hajime’s mom has her way.
Hajime knows how Tooru makes himself small sometimes, smaller than he ever should be, weighed down with doubts and fears and what if I’ll never be good enough.
Hajime also knows how to fix it, better than anyone.
And maybe that’s the thought that kickstarts it. Better than anyone.
He’s never really had to think about Tooru not being there, because he always has been. And honestly, Tooru would be a complete mess without him, anyway, because he forgets half his stuff all the time? Hajime’s the one who carries two bottles of water, an extra roll of tape, a small tube of hand cream for cuts and calluses - all in anticipation of Tooru draping himself over his back during practice with his telltale drawn-out “Iwa-chaaaan” to indicate that he’s once again forgotten to pack his bag properly.
Hajime’s heard Makki and Mattsun call him “team mom” behind his back, but really, the things he does are mostly for Tooru’s benefit. It’s not weird, or special, or anything. It’s just them.
Tooru mumbles something in his sleep, incoherent with his face smushed up against Hajime’s collar bone. Hajime exhales, tightening his grip.
Plus, he sleeps better with Tooru here. It’s an arrangement that works on both ends; it’s not like he’s always giving and never getting anything in return. Tooru’s just sort of reckless most of the time, and someone has to stop him from running himself into the ground. The recharging is mutual, as is the joy they share in victory (and the frustration of defeat). And Tooru’s also more thoughtful than people give him credit for. He notices things, pays attention, remembers. He buys Hajime small things that reminded me of you; takes Hajime to that new café that sells homemade chocolate ice cream, to the shrine and to festivals, to amusement parks and aquarium dates-
Tooru lets out a soft noise that rips Hajime from his thoughts, and he finds himself suddenly holding very still, tension growing in every muscle.
Fingers clench over the fabric of Hajime’s shirt (Tooru’s, actually, because his sci-fi fan shirts are way softer than anything Hajime owns and perfect for sleeping in, even if Tooru swears by Hajime’s hoodies) and Tooru wedges his leg between Hajime’s knees, hooking in and pulling himself even closer.
Hajime might have stopped breathing.
Tooru exhales against his skin, and Hajime feels goosebumps erupt down his neck. He reflexively tightens his grip because it’s the only thing he knows how to do, though he should probably be pulling away, should think this through, should give himself time to process the realization that just burst across every fibre of his being, shit, shit, I’m in love with him-
With a tiny hum, Tooru nuzzles his face against Hajime’s skin, and he can only imagine that his eyes are fluttering open.
Hajime is acutely aware of how his heart is slamming against his chest, and on reflex he squeezes tighter, arms clenching around Tooru’s middle.
Oh god, he’s got his ear pressed right up against Hajime’s ribcage, he can probably hear-
The hands on his back unclench, touch going soft and gentle.
“…your heart’s going crazy,” Tooru mumbles, and Hajime thinks he might be dying. There’s nothing he can do but hold on, pretty sure his knuckles are going white from the strain. And then-
“D'you have a nightmare?”
Hajime lets out a breath that’s way too shaky and tries to calm his racing mind and heart, but he’s drawing blanks and probably breathing too fast now, too, because he’s bad at lying, this is the perfect excuse but he can’t use it because it’s Tooru and holy shit he loves him so much, how did he never realize-
“Hajime,” Tooru whispers, and he’s not sure if it’s the concern in his voice, or the fact that he used his given name, or the fact that he starts rubbing his palms between Hajime’s shoulder blades - either way, it feels like Hajime’s heart jumps clean out of his chest and he knows there’s more color in his face than is probably healthy, heat rising and making him wish the earth would open up and swallow him whole.
Slowly, Tooru tries to pull back to get a look at his face, and shit, it’s too bright (even though the door’s closed, the lamps are off, the only sliver of light comes from a crack in the blinds) and Tooru will see-
“No,” Hajime manages, and his voice is so wrong - and Tooru stills.
Through everything, his own nervousness and the crushing weight of his realization, Hajime still feels apprehension rising from Tooru.
“…then what’s wrong…?” he asks quietly.
Hajime wishes he could see his face, to judge his reactions, to make sure he’s not crossing a line - but what line? Was there ever one? Was this Tooru’s intention from the start? God, does he know?
Hajime is bad at lying. He doesn’t usually see the point, and even though he’s wishing he could, some small part of him is coming to terms with the fact that he’s not supposed to. He wouldn’t want Tooru to lie about something like this.
A million scenarios are shooting through his head, possibilities, reactions, what does this mean for us?
But underneath all that, there’s a certainty, and with every second it grows.
Tooru is an irreplaceable part of Hajime’s life. They’re not two halves of a whole, but they complete each other in a way Hajime could never imagine anyone else doing. His mind jumps to Tooru’s girlfriend, the only one whose confession he accepted, and how their relationship fizzled out after only a few weeks. She wasn’t right, for him.
Hajime hadn’t worried, back then. He hadn’t given it much thought at all, especially since it hadn’t taken long for it to become irrelevant again. Maybe some part of him knew that Tooru wouldn’t find what he needed out there.
In fact, he’s pretty sure (and his confidence is growing) that maybe what they both need is here, in each other’s arms.
His heart’s still racing, what if’s churning and terrifying him, and maybe all of this is moving too fast but how did I never see this before?
“I- I just-”
And even though Hajime is fighting for words, Tooru is already pulling him close again, offering comfort and warmth no matter what. It’s honestly not fair, how easy it is to let himself go, to surrender to everything Tooru is offering-
It’s too easy to love him.
“Tooru,” he says, and the tension is rising again, but really, there’s no choice. Hajime can’t keep this a secret, he already feels the words pushing towards his lips, out,tell him, now, “Tooru, I- I think I’m in love with you.”
Tooru goes scarily still, and then it’s his grip that’s turning rigid, clenching tightly around Hajime’s waist.
Hajime takes a few breaths, trying to steady himself, his own fingers catching on Tooru’s shirt and staying there, tangled up and close. Like a lifeline.
“I’m in love with you,” he says again, and the relief of saying it overpowers everything else. “I’m- shit, Tooru, I’m… I’m in love with you.”
The silence around them is suddenly heavy, strong, everywhere, and Hajime’s mind races, what if-
And then there’s a sound, so small that Hajime almost misses it over the way his pulse is pounding in his ears.
It’s Tooru’s breath, hitching in his throat, followed by what might be a sob.
“…oh,” Tooru whispers, and then he starts shaking, curling in over Hajime and pressing himself close, hiding his face and he’s crying, actually crying, air catching in gasps as his hands clench into fists.
Everything else fades. All Hajime’s senses zero in on the boy in his arms, and it’s all he can do to hold him, to try and shoulder some of the weight that seems to be coming off him in waves, along with the tears that are slowly drenching the fabric over Hajime’s skin.
“I-Iwa-chan,” he chokes, pulling back so their eyes can finally, finally meet, “Iwa-chan, I-Iwa-chan, I-”
Hajime brings his hand up to cup Tooru’s cheek, staring in awe at how much raw emotion he can see in his eyes, despite how red and blotchy his face is from crying.
And it’s all there, too. Oh, oh, Hajime, I love you and I’ve waited so long and please, please be mine now.
But he wants to hear it, then, with a fierce kind of determination, needs to make sure that he’s not making a mistake, that it’s okay to move on from here-
“Do you- do you think… do you think maybe we could try… being more than this?”
Tooru lifts his own hand to cover Hajime’s, fingers slipping together like they belong. His expression softens, wet with tears and so full of hope it’s almost painful. Hajime swallows against the lump in his throat, against the thoughts screaming oh, oh, I don’t deserve this.
“I’ve always loved you,” Tooru says, barely more than a whisper, heavy with awe. “Always. And I never thought - I-I was sure you could n-never- love me the same way.”
Hajime tries to think back, to ten minutes ago, ten hours ago, ten days ago, when tonight’s revelation was unthinkable - but he finds that he can’t. Because it feels like everything makes sense now, and his previous understanding of the world, of their lives, of his feelings is falling away. All he knows is that Tooru was always most important, for as long as he can remember.
“…think I always did,” he says, blinking the disbelief out of his own eyes. “I just- I didn’t realize. God, Tooru, I’m sorry-”
But Tooru brings up his other hand and claps it over Hajime’s mouth, cutting him off.
“D-don’t. Don’t. This is perfect. I’m- y-you’re here now. You see, now.”
Hajime nods, brushing his thumb over Tooru’s cheek. “Yeah.”
Tooru holds his gaze, and despite the tears he’s never looked more certain, more resolute. Hajime finds himself falling, bit by bit and then all at once, for the fire in Tooru’s eyes and the salt on his skin, for the way he’s practically glowing, exhaustion and worry falling away in favor of a smile that has Hajime catching his breath.
It’s a little too much, and Tooru seems to think so too, because he lets out a small, breathy laugh and lets himself fall forward, back into Hajime’s arms.
He catches him on instinct, fitting him against his chest like he’s done so many times before - only now it feels closer, stronger, definite.
“Y-you mean it?” Tooru mumbles into Hajime’s skin, arms trembling ever so slightly. “…’s this real?”
And Hajime says the only thing he can think to say, because there aren’t words for the magnitude of feelings building in his chest. He squeezes him tighter and hopes that’s enough.
I reflect therefore I am…aware of the cycles that ebb and flow. Through me. In a time of review-a milestone of 5 years attending LIB, I wonder if I have come any further or if I have wandered any farther from my truth. If the only foundation is certain transformation how can I trust the ground will be steady beneath me? LIB was all uphill for me this year. From the ride in, battling the harsh onset of my period and hearing the painful news of Dream Rockwell’s absence from the festival. Perhaps in the power of the new moon was the opportunity to face this darkness. To realize I was never in it just for the party. It’s always been about the feeling of hope and possibility for positive change that infused the entirety of this movement. Yet just as there were clouds present for the first time in the sky, the sense of overcast echoed throughout my experience of the weekend. What is my role in all of this? And how will I rise to fill it?
For one, I renew my commitment to shining my light as embodiment of the divine feminine. In a profound meditation led by Goddess Rising Sisterhood, I was gifted the encouragement to adorn myself in honor of my body as a celebration of the feminine cycle as sacred.
I am appreciative of the synchronistic alignment required to partner with festival wear creatrix Prancy Kat in this time of profound need for reclamation of my body as an altar to the Goddess. Thank you for allowing me to adorn myself in your kaleidoscopic swimsuits.
More reflection to come. Beautiful structure created by Shrine On.
Portable shrine that was used by Egyptian priests to carry images of deities in various ceremonies within the temple and on voyages outside the temple during specific festivals. Such shrines are depicted in carved reliefs dating to the Ptolemaic period (305–30 B.C.E.), inside a Horus deity.
Today 25 May 2017 - I day of Khenty-Khety, the tenth month of the Lunar Calendar (in the CDXVIII Great Year of Ra according to the Civil Calendar).
Beginning of the new lunar month, ‘Khenty-Khety’, sacred to the God Khenty-Khety. Best wishes to all!!!
Religious Prescriptions: Favorable day
Religious Festivities: The I day of the lunar month is sacred to Montu-Ra-Harakhty. It is the “Feast of Psedje(n)tyu/Feast of the New Moon” and Thoth is the God of the Feast.
- “Purifying things and offerings in Busiris. The Gods spend the day in festivity. Act in accordance with that which happens on this day.” [c.c.]
- Festival of the Valley (two-day festivity, I day): “Offerings for Amon-Ra King of the Gods in His Festival of the Valley. The first day of offerings to this Noble God Amon-Ra, King of the Gods, in the Temple of Millions of Years of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt Ramses III, in the Estate of Amon, it being in corn from the granary of the Temple of Millions of Years of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt Ramses III, in the Estate of Amon.” (The offerings are bread, great bread, cakes, bowls of flour of barley, flour of fruits, bowls of grains of barley, bowls of white grain, jars of beer, geese, ordinary fowl, jars of wine, bouquets and baskets of fresh flowers). [T. Ramses III]
- “Feast of Hathor, Lady of Nitentóre, the Eye of Ra, the Eye of Horus and the Eye of Atum, Who resides at Bubastis (…).” (thirty-day festivity, XXVIII day) [T. Behdet, c. Hathor]
- Feast of the Birth-Giving of Hathor (twenty-three day festivity, XV day): “the God is brought out in Procession to the bank of the great canal.” [T. Behdet, c. Hathor]
- “Procession of Hathor, Lady of Nitentóre, to Her Venerable Shrine” (four-days festivity, II day) [T. Nitentóre]
- “Feast of the Appearing of Min.” (every New Moon day) [T. Ombos, west side]
(quotes from “Egyptian Religious Calendar: CDXVII-CDXVIII Great Year of Ra (2017CE)”, where you will find the full version of the Egyptian Calendar with the complete translation of the Temples’ calendars. The book is available both in paperback format and as a digital ebook: http://a.co/8oFE52w )
This was originally going to be a rant about how hot it is in India right now but I’ve decided to make it productive instead. Here are some facts about India’s weather!
There are four seasons (technically):
- Winter: This season lasts from December to March. Temperatures can reach below freezing depending on where you are. The farther north you go, the cooler it gets. If you want to visit the western desert states, I would go during this season.
- Summer: This season lasts from April to June. It’s summer here right now and let me tell you it is not only hitting above 90 degrees every day but the humidity is out of control. And that’s right, we go straight from winter to summer. Only the very northern parts of India get to experience spring. The hottest month of summer is actually May. On the brighter side, mango season is in the summer, and mangoes from India are the best.
- Monsoon: This season lasts from mid June/July to September. It’s the rainy season, so it’s cooler than summer. The only problem is that it rains really, really hard. There’s regular flooding, and if you stay near a pond like my grandparents you may find snakes in your parking garage. The rain isn’t cold, either, so a lot of people don’t mind getting wet as much.
- Post- Monsoon: I want to change this season’s name because it’s too awesome for a name like “post-monsoon.” The weather is literally perfect, but it lasts only two months: October and November. If you want to visit India, I recommend doing it during this time period. Also, West Bengal ( and some other states) has this epic festival called Durga Puja where we worship this goddess names Durga for ten days. Kids get a break from school at that time. The festival is religious, yes, but it is also fun to go pandal-hopping (visiting the different temporary shrines where the festival is held. The pandals are often themed and look like works of art!)
Of course, this will vary from state to state depending on its location in India. Traditionally, there are six seasons (ritu), each two months long: winter, spring, summer, monsoon, autumn, and pre-vernal.
Remember, if you have any questions, I can answer them!