Have you ever come across a piece of art, a book or a film or a song and felt it was made just for you?
This happened to me recently.
First was “When Marnie was There“, both the film itself, but even more intensely the final song “Fine on the Outside” Priscilla Ahn. I saw it alone in a cinema in Nagasaki during my final three week trip around Japan. The film’s themes of loneliness and isolation combined with the setting, a fictional village just down the coast from the place where I had spent three years and battling similar feelings, completely undid me. I saw the mists and the marshlands that were so familiar. I rode that exact train to my new home at the end of the world. I watched a young girl who was afraid to make connections with others. I saw myself at that age, afraid to speak at all. I saw myself at 26 too, taking walks on the trail into the wetlands, not quite dealing with all the things that had happened to me.
When that final song kicked in, I couldn’t keep it together any more. It was as if someone had written that song just for me. It’s probably for the best that I didn’t hear it when I was 12. It had enough impact fourteen years later. I cry at movies. I even cry at bad movies, but this was a good movie. I had thought I knew what catharsis felt like, but “When Marnie was There” was far more powerful. Although I cried my eyes out in the cinema and all the rest of the night, I felt refreshed and emptied.
I’m not the same girl I was when I was 12. People are often surprised when I tell them that I used to find it impossible to talk to others. I’ll talk to anyone these days. I have wonderful friends in the UK, Japan, Canada and many other countries around the world.
I don’t live in Nemuro anymore either. The mist doesn’t rise up from the sea around my house. I can’t see birds wheeling over the marshes from my window. But I’ve taken a part of Nemuro with me in the same way I still have that scared 12 year old me. And sometimes when I want to remember both of them so intensely it almost hurts, I’ll listen to “Fine on the Outside” on repeat.
If I can ever create anything that makes someone feel the way “When Marnie was There” and “Fine on the Outside” made me feel, I’d think I’d done something worthwhile.