Somewhere out there, as I type this out, there is a boy who I once loved.
But, I’m not gonna talk about him just yet. This past weekend, I read Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami. I adore his poetic, metaphysical, and classic music-laden storytelling, and it was about time I finally read this book. My fellow Murakami readers have recommended it a dozen times over and, after having had just finished three months and 5,200 pages of the Game of Thrones book series, I was ready to dust off the book.
Once I opened it up, I couldn’t put it down. It took me probably five or so hours to read, but over the course of two days, that time period was only broken up by sleep, minimal socializing, some Brooklyn Nine-Nine episodes, and a meal or two.
Sputnik Sweetheart was poetic in the way that Norwegian Wood was, and confusing, yet captivating, as was Kafka on the Shore. I found myself feverishly highlighting and annotating every other page of the book, whether it be a single sentence, or a half-page. Although it was those black squiggly lines on the paper that spoke to me, it was the meaning within them that nearly broke my heart in two.
The story is told through the voice of ‘K,’ a bookworm, music-loving schoolteacher who is in love with his best friend. As the story progressed, I was sucked into the world of these two, and sometimes three, characters. All unique in their own ways, yet subdued and withdrawn from one version of reality or another. For most of the book, I was focused on them.
But books have this amazing ability to let us look deep inside ourselves, as we resonate with the words and stories and feelings of the characters we follow. Some authors are gifted with the way they can convey the core of our human emotions, but in a way that makes it seem like they are speaking directly to you.
The part of Sputnik Sweetheart that I can’t seem to push from my mind, was the third-to-last chapter, in which ‘K’ realizes just how much Sumire (which means ‘Violet’ in Japanese) truly meant to him.
All over again I understood how important, how irreplaceable, Sumire was to me. In her own special way she’d kept me tethered to the world. As I talked to her and read her stories, my mind quietly expanded, and I could see things I’d never seen before. Without even trying, we grew close. Like a pair of young lovers undressing in front of each other, Sumire and I had exposed our hearts to one another, an experience I’d never have with anyone else, anywhere. We cherished what we had together, though we never put into words how very precious it was.
Of course it hurt that we could never love each other in a physical way. We would have been far happier if we had. But that was like the tides, the change of seasons—something immutable, an immovable destiny we could never alter. No matter how cleverly we might shelter it, our delicate friendship wasn’t going to last for ever. We were bound to reach a dead end. That was painfully clear.
I loved Sumire more than anyone else and wanted her more than anything in the world. And I couldn’t just shelve those feelings, for there was nothing to take their place.
I dreamed that someday there’d be a sudden, major transformation. Even if the chances of it coming true were slim, I could dream about it, couldn’t I? But I knew it would never come true.
Somehow, some way, Haruki Murakami had written exactly how I feel about the boy I mentioned in the beginning. It’s a classic tale of bad timing, uncertainty, regret, and dreams. How sad it is that two people, who are so deeply in love, can never truly be together. But, that’s life. It does it’s own thing, whether you like it or not, and all you can do is hold on and hope to God that things turn out okay.
As often as not, they do. But we’re still left with this feeling of missing out; like making it to the platform just in time to see the train doors shut in your face and leave you behind. And it’s so hard to move on because no other person comes close to making you feel like you did before.
Like ‘K,’ I’m plagued by dreams of “what could have been,” or fantasies that one day things will change, that there will be a second chance for me and this time, nothing goes wrong. I understand that the likelihood of this happening is impossible to say, but it hurts a little less if I push those logically-sourced thoughts of mine deep into my mind, and let myself believe, even for just another moment, that we’ll be together once more. Me and my Sputnik Sweetheart.