Let us start at the inverse: Imaginary. Is this what you see when you close your eyes? Is this where you go in your daydreams? They tell you to make nice and then they say your world is make-believe. Imaginary; notably not there.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my imaginary places — places I’ve known and loved who live on rent free in the many zip codes of my mind. I called these places imaginary because even if I could return now, they wouldn’t be the same. These are the places of my past and it’s all too clear to me now that it makes little sense to look back. And yet, nostalgia is the only genre my heart knows. Is imaginary dynamic enough to call out to these places that I yearn for? No. And so —
I declare these places yranigami.
— I can’t take you there, but I can show you.
A tiny island in the North Pacific, barely on the map. An island so contrary to any of my mind maps and memories that often I wonder if it ever existed at all. The place where I sat and dreamed of yranigami. At the base of a waterfall, epicenter of my island inspiration. I look up and feel the elemental force of water misting my face, reminding me that I am awake, I am alive, I am free.
I can say for almost certain that whether I am there or not, the water is rushing endlessly, as it has long before I first arrived and will continue to, agnostically, whether I stay or leave.
Yranigami is not only the waterfall I miss, but the version of myself in that very moment when it reminded me of who I was.
That’s where I go when I close my eyes. To the waterfall. My yranigami place. When I go there I return for a moment to my former self. I take her hand and thank her. We look up at the waterfall together. Soon I will leave, but she never will. I carry the waterfall with me wherever I go. Just like I carry New York and all of the places who have been gracious enough to invite me in and show me their magic.
Yranigami, for all of the places that existed once, but no longer do, and for the versions of myself who remember them longingly. They are not gone, they are just different now. They are yranigami. You can almost see them when you close your eyes, almost smell them in a random bakery in some foreign city or know their presence as they brush past you in one of life’s many waiting rooms. You remember them over cups of coffee or hear them just before you fade into sleep, but you can never arrive. Yranigami, I will miss you forever. I don’t wish I stayed, but I wish I could visit. Of you I will always think fondly. Yranigami, at once a blessing and a curse. A part of me always. The ultimate distraction from my true nature of mind. Yranigami, Yranigami, Yranigami.