Greetings from Tomorrow


My little brother Skyped me tonight from his new Droid. It’s the only way we can talk for free, because he lives in Japan. Friday evening for me; for him, it was noon on Saturday.

He is the same brother that rode in the antique stroller (see Passengers in Zone 4…), and whom I brought for show-and-tell in the first grade and introduced as Freddy when, in fact, his name is David (see Recycle Robot vs. Sister Mary Villus). I do not think this incident has any connection to the fact that he has lived six thousand miles away for almost twenty years. That has more to do with the fact that although he is kind of blond and furry, when he speaks Japanese on the phone, Japanese people don’t know he’s not Japanese.

He works as a patent translator. He does not live near Fukushima.

When he was in the first or second grade, my brother was planning, when he grew up, to build a house next door to my parents’ house. He was also going to open a doughnut shop and have a parking place reserved just for her. I think my mother still secretly holds out hope that he will move back to the States  and live in a treehouse in my parents’ backyard.

This was at about the same time that Mom was saying The Other Day every night at David’s bedtime.  At its inception, The Other Day was a brief, benign exercise in explaining what would happen tomorrow: “We’ll get up in the morning, go to school, come home and have a snack, play outside, eat dinner, and get ready for bed!” Mom recited. Over the weeks and months and year plus, however, it became a daily endurance event in memorization, on my mother’s part, and delay, on my brother’s.”We’ll  get out of bed, brush our teeth…”

“You forgot ‘open our eyes!'”

Sigh. Deep breath. “We’ll open our eyes, get out of bed, brush our teeth…”

“You forgot ‘pull up the shade!'”

We’ll pull up the shade…”

“No, start from the beginning!”

“We’ll open our eyes, get out of bed, pull up the shade….”

You get the idea. Cute for the first three minutes. Hell ever after. The Other Day, at its pinnacle, sometimes took over half an hour to recite, the Guru Gita of bedtime rituals. At some point–I believe when it became a source of hilarity for Lil’ Bro rather than a source of comfort–my mother finally forced The Other Day into retirement, but David did not go gently into that goodnight.

It has been a longstanding family joke that he moved to Japan–across the International Date Line–so that he would actually be living in The Other Day.

Two months ago during the family reunion in Hawaii, David and his wife and daughters rented the condo four doors down from Mom and The Guru (see Building the Future, One Accident at a Time), and he made several pre-dawn runs across the island to the Krispy Kreme store.

Have you gotten–maybe in a form no one could have predicted–what you wanted?

* donut pic from

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