This South Alabama dirt road takes me back to Japan. Countless times during the first three weeks of July 1990 I walked up and down this road with notes, or a well-highlighted BarBri book, in hand, studying for the Alabama State Bar examination. This road runs in front of the family home. On the back side there’s a paved road that, just a few miles further south, crosses into Florida. In fact this road eventually crosses into Florida. About a week after my last study session on this road I was on a plane headed from Atlanta to Japan, the Bar Exam behind me. It was a hectic week.
I graduated law school in May of 1990, from the University of Alabama School of Law in Tuscaloosa. I had a job lined-up in Japan (with the “JET Program“) that was to begin in August, with me scheduled to fly over, the last weekend of July. In between lay the Bar Exam. So by mid- or late-June I had packed up all my things and moved from Tuscaloosa back down to my family’s South Alabama homeplace. And there — I should say, “here,” because I’m here right now, for another few hours — I cloistered myself for about five weeks, doing nothing but studying for the upcoming Bar Exam, having virtually no time to think about the move I would make to Japan (Tokyo*, to begin with) within 72 hours of completing that 3-day testing marathon.
I studied in this room I sit in right now, my old bedroom, which had become my father’s study after I graduated high school years before. And, when I became stir-crazy, I would take my notes or one of my study guides, leg it up to that dirt road, and walk up and down it, back and forth, over and over again, reading and reciting my notes, like an actor learning his lines.
That’s how this road lead to Japan. Where this particular story ends is pretty much where the story “Etsuko” picks up. I’ve been down here visiting family for a few days, but have to get back on the road, as mentioned above. As soon as I post this I’ve got to respond to an email just received regarding a business matter, an email from Japan. Everything’s connected.
*Noting that those images were from this past August, 2011. Not from 1990.