Hamachi & Laughter
The hamachi was thin and barely pink, shining with fine oil. Voices float above the sharp movement of forks. I try and not scrape the plate. I can feel my face warm with sake and laughter in the comfortable understanding of friends. There is joy in the intimacy of food. It is a gateway, a small peek into the sensual world of others. We trust each other with a portion of our time — and not to stab each other with forks. Without argument, there is nothing more immaculate than sharing a meal, the nourishing combination of conversation and survival as old as caves. We need each other to survive, sharing stories and resources.
They lower the lights.
The music rises.
The food continues.
The delicate slice hardly seems like flesh, it is nearly translucent and almost too pretty to eat. It makes me feel the way I feel about a person when I kiss them, or other things. That I may become some part of them. I wonder if this is a woman thing, the notion that what I take inside me, I may become. I have crudely joked — often despondently — that my vagina is the fifth ventricle of the heart. If you are passion, or love, or art? If I kiss the tender parts of you, can I ingest those things? Do you taste of love? I have wondered “what will I become through you?” Will you consume me? Will I be left hungry? Can I nourish or make sick?
In some ways, a man makes a woman. Right now, I am yet unmade.
Some will take objection to this.
And I look at the hamachi.
It is beautiful. I look at it. I talk above it, waiting.
It is not a matter of consumption, is it?
I don’t know. Sushi is ritual. It is eating made into art.
Once it was alive. Now, it is this moment being considered and again, later, as I write it down, I share it again. I crave it later, my favorite sushi. In this way, it recurs until I end or we run out of hamachi.
It is so transformed into another thing, something that is only the blush of flesh, like the look of spring sun on a child’s cheek. Like my own shyness as I feel fledgling in this body again. The memory of touch is fragile, nearly translucent and somehow like this little raw slice of hamachi, delicately prepared. I think about it, in the deep blue ocean of night and in the rising morning as the cerulean thickness eases. I lay breathing deeply, calm. The wake of dreams is full of busy shoals and the comfortably slow sway of plant life.
I look at the hamachi.
I want to put it in my mouth and taste the clean ocean, the care of the chef, the fresh meat of this wild creature. I want to feel it mash into my tongue and down my throat to lock it, finally, in the belly of my experience. I want to feel this delicacy fill me amidst the warm safe company of laughter and familiarity — this one new bite.
I have had hamachi before. It is my favorite. But, this last peace is new — and it is beautiful and daunting.
Maybe it is the sake.
It is the first bite.
It is the last bite, the reluctance to approach it making it as new as the first.
I am shy and hungry, caressing it with the smooth dark wood chopsticks.
My old friends. A new restaurant. A fresh liberation from living on scraps.
I remember myself.
I remember the joy in a single mouthful of perfect, simple hamachi sashimi. Here among friends.
I know there will be other fine moments, but in this one I am aware. I feel alive.
It is just a small thin and barely pink slice of flesh, but this was its life. And now it is mine, swimming through the moment, happily above water for the first time in a very long time.