The Normal Files

a caveat:

everything that follows is a work of fiction.

even that which has actually happened.

reality is what you can get away with

and i don’t think i could possibly get away

with you believing any of this.

if you did, you would only believe it subjectively anyway

Parks and Determination

There is a river that runs through Gifu, along the side of this river runs a track where people, well, run. Along the eastern edge of this track is a smaller track where people rollerblade, play tennis and skateboard. It is a very scenic area of the track as the opposite shore butts up against a small lush mountain that is topped with a castle. As I was skating there one afternoon a Japanese man carrying stilts approached me. The stilts were not the kind a person would wear to tower over a crowd, at most they elevated their user a foot in the air. Like those pictured here, but of a more modern design.
The man asked if I could take a picture of him standing on the stilts with the castle in the background. He tells me that he wants to put the picture on facebook. He hands me his Iphone to take the picture and I see he has it set to his facebook page. I tell him that I don't think I can take the picture straight from facebook. That we will have to use the camera on the phone and he can upload it later. He seems a little confused by this so I show him the camera application on the phone. He nods happily and then tells me that we will have to take the picture quickly because he is not very good on the stilts yet. I tell him its no problem, take my position and frame up the shot.
He counts down to three, hops up onto the stilts and I hit the shutter. It doesn't work.
The delay on the Iphone camera is just a little longer than he can stay on the stilts. I tell him to try again and this time I hit the shutter just before he gets on the stilts. By the count of three he is on the stilts and the camera is in action. We get the shot, and in the timeless space of a photograph he is quite the stilt walker.  I show him the photo for his approval. He thanks me and wanders off. I get back to skateboarding.
About fifteen minutes later he returns and strikes up a conversation. He asks the usual questions; what am I doing in Japan, how long have I been here, why did I come. I chat with him happily. After a few more questions he tells me that he wants to travel to America in May or June. He wants to go to LA and from LA he wants to walk, on stilts, to Las Vegas. From LA to Las Vegas is three hundred miles. I tell him that I am quite impressed with his ambitions. He tells me he plans to practice the stilts everyday until the trip. I tell him he will have to. I then ask what kind of a record he will make of the journey. I tell him it seems like good fodder for a documentary or photo series. He tells me that he will document it all on facebook; using his Iphone on the trip he will post moments of the trip as they occur. I tell him I think this is a brilliant idea and that given the right networking he could become an international celebrity. He asks if I would be his friend on facebook and, in eager anticipation of his journey, I told him I would. He logged onto facebook, through his Iphone, and sent me a friend request.
After this he went back to wondering around and I went back to skateboarding, all the while I thought about his plan. In between tricks I would look at him in the distance, and not once did I see him practicing his stilt walking. When I got home I got on facebook and accepted his friend request. I was curious about the guy so I went to his page and started snooping. I learned that he was as new to facebook as he was to stilt walking. He had joined the network a little more than a month ago and I was his eleventh friend. I laughed at the gall of this guy. His dream was dependent on learning two things that he had only just begin to use. Yet despite everything he had going against his success I had confidence in him. He might not have been much of a stilt walker, or a very savvy social networker, but damn if he wasn't determined.