Yesterday, I found myself with some time to blow. There’s something inviting about popping into a thrift store. With a few dollar bills, it’s amazing what will find me. This book was in a GoodWill store and priced at 99 cents. It’s hardbound and the binding had not been cracked. I could have passed it up, especially since it’s Newberry award sort of gave it away as aimed at children. At first glance, I thought the little girl on the front was Native American. I have to give a book a shake and a glance before reshelving it. I don’t know why, but the serendipity of finding a really good read is worth the few seconds it takes to maybe see something that catches my eye. It could be an illustration or the language it is written in. Often I will play page roulette and just open it up to a random page to see if there is a sentence that was written, unread and waiting for me. The cover photo is a little girl, she looks to be about 8. Roll the book over and there is an older version of her on the back. It is her older sister. They appear to be wandering through a wild wheat field in the Midwest somewhere. Ah, that reminded me instantly of my sister and me. She is 4 years younger than me. We tried, like all siblings do, to find adventures together. During the early 70s that was a safe idea. It usually ended up in her falling in the river or narrowly avoiding serious bodily injury trying to coax the horse near to the fence at the abandoned farm down the road. Once, I tied her wagon to my bicycle and for a few minutes we laughed and squealed down the street. The fun came to a screeching halt when the independent steering on the wagon was unable to bear the speed and onto the asphalt she went, tumbling and skidding. She spent a few weeks bandaged and scraped. I wasn’t the cause of every calamity with my little sister. I have convinced myself all siblings incur injuries and it is the younger ones that are on the receiving end.
That page I cracked the book open to? The narrator of the this book goes by the name Katie. The author is Japanese. She is the younger of the two sisters and her given name is Katherine. The lights at GoodWill could have gone completely out and I wouldn’t have been aware. For a few seconds yesterday, I felt a goofy warp in time.
There will be something about this book that speaks directly to me. Something about the little girl with my name. Something about her going by Katie. I always wanted to be a “Katie”. There were so many babies named Kathy in the 60s. So many, that by the time I got to High School, I was wishing my name were anything but Kathy. (Desperate to fit in, but not wanting to be the same.) Something about the Japaneseyness of the book. Naming things in Japanese and explaining why things are done the Japanese way. Something about this little book with its unbroken binding.
I read 8 pages before dinner. Page 8 mentions a crow. I don’t know why but when I find myself in new territory. If it’s clearly new fallen snow and no one seems to have walked that way with me before……I will see a crow. And there on page 8….a crow.
Good thing I needed to get to dinner, because page 30 mentions Ainu. What’s an Ainu? you say. I’m not sure what the significance is, but I wrote previously about my face shape and how eerily similar it is to my (adoptive) mother’s face. There is a squareness below the eyes, a shortness of the top of the skull. Hair, everywhere. Northern Indigenous Japanese Tribe. Yep, Ainu. I need a few days to let that sink in. It’s a short book. It’s a long journey and I have a few people to take with me. Maybe over the long weekend. Maybe if I see a crow.