Is It Okay
to Be Okay Again?

We survived the summer. Or almost. The thermostats were dutifully set to seventy-eight, everywhere, so the lights wouldn’t go out, and they didn’t. And maybe they never would have, but in a changed world so soon after those terrible spring days, we did what we were told. Or mostly. The screens in Shibuya had been restored to full power, free again to deliver one pointless advertisement after another, to light the starless Tokyo night sky in all its brilliance. August still brought the jellyfish meandering toward the coast, brought people back for hometown reunions, and couples in yukatas headed to fireworks, Awa Odori, or other summer festivals. In some places fireworks or festivals were canceled or shortened out of respect for the north or owing to lack of electricity, which we apparently didn’t lack, but the fear of lacking was worse. Still, in Tokyo everything looked the same as it did before. Summer was still thick and unbearable, it still pasted my shirt to my sides and lower back in a sweaty film like it always did, and made me wish, like it always had, for fall.

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