3 December 2009

Returning turtle

We were in Japan, walking through a national forest in a snowstorm, when a monkey the height of a bar stool brushed against us. His fur was a dull silver, the color of dishwater, but he had this beet-red face, set in a serious, almost solemn expression. We saw it full on when he turned to look briefly at us. Then he shrugged and ambled over a footbridge.

"Jesus Christ!" I said. Because it was too much: the forest, the snowstorm and now this. Monkeys were an attraction in that part of the country. We expected to see them at some point, but I thought they'd be fenced in. As with the sea turtle [I had seen in Hawaii], part of the thrill was the feeling of being accepted, which is to say, not feared. It allowed you to think that you and this creature had a special relationship, a juvenile thought, but one that brings with it a defined comfort. Well, monkeys like me, I'd find myself thinking during the next few months, whenever I felt lonely or underappreciated. Just as, in the months following our trip to Hawaii, I had thought of the sea turtle. With her, though, my feelings were a it more complicated, and, instead of believing we had bonded, I'd wondered that she could ever have forgiven me.
-- David Sedaris

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