Two lone images from childhood past: A little girl on a Japanese bridge; the other of a little girl in the crowd, a dragon, firecrackers, loud noises, colors, many people. The common factor in both images is of a mother in the foreground somewhere; or perhaps she is in the background, but her presence is there and so this little girl, now a woman, is drawn to the Japanese Garden. When she takes a trip to Portland, Oregon, almost a year and a half ago, part of the reason she decided to go was to visit two gardens: The Japanese and The Chinese.
She begins to wonder if she conjured this childhood image of a girl on a bridge. There is no one to confirm whether this happened in reality or in her mind. All she knows is that she has always been drawn to the Asian mode—the little she has been exposed to along the way and the little she has inquired about. She knows that she can never be a part of that culture because it is not her own by birth, yet she feels a deep connection to the nuances.
So she goes through life, with this image, that surfaces at different points and that is when she asks herself if part of her draw to these magnificent gardens, besides naturally loving nature and simplicity—she asks herself if this is yet another reason that the gardens have a hold on her—that she finds a little piece of her mother and her self in them and that she someone knows that although her mother was not obviously present in her memory, she knows she was there somewhere sharing these precious moments with her girl.
My trip to Portland, Oregon, was largely a pull to see both gardens. That was in October of 2010. Since then, I have visited the Hayward and San Jose Japanese Gardens; and I have also revisited the San Francisco Japanese Garden and saw that bridge that I remembered from my childhood. My significant other took me early in our relationship, and he also had childhood memories of the bridge. I didn’t take a current photo. I was more interested in admiring the bridge and I know we'll be back to visit.
Of all the Japanese Gardens, each had a specialness; and in Portland, that was the first Chinese Garden I had ever visited.
I don’t think I will ever travel to Japan because it’s quite too expensive for my budget, but it is said that the garden in Portland is one of the most authentic outside of Japan. I loved it. It was grand and I immediately felt a sense of peace and tranquility. I plan on going back, and this time I will share the experience with my other half. The part of me that is now we. And this will be very soon.