The day after my parents met me at the airport I spent a jet lagged afternoon at their house sorting out phone numbers and gorging myself on the treasures of a well stocked American refrigerator. But by the next morning I was fingering a wallet of American bills aboard a lumbering Nixon-era rail car, creaking across the bridge to Manhattan, where I was meeting an old high school friend. New York greeted my return with a chilling rain attended by fog that sweatered the skyscrapers in a dull white. It hid the shoulders and fuzzed the edges of these 20th century behemouths, drenching the souls on the streets and the soles of my feet.
My friend insisted on tramping several blocks through the rain to reach an East Village coffee shop thoroughly unremarkable aside from the yards of weathered hard covers lining the walls. Most of the tables were monopolized by solitary individuals crouched intently over laptops; we ate our sandwiches in a corner by the window, talking about Japanese cinema and friends from high school. Who are they now? Alcoholics and investment bankers, adulterers and electricians. Wandering out in that foggy Manhattan grid.