Are we living for the feeling when we look back on what we did and reminisce?

Amber Bain, best known by her stage name The Japanese House.


A creative writing piece based stylistically on Carmen Maria Machado’s “Yesterday, Tomorrow,” a biography for artist Phoebe Bridgers. This is my take on a creative biography — imagined and pieced together from lyrics — for The Japanese House (Amber Bain).


In her dreams, she sees you. A fanciful recreation of a past she’d clung to like water in her palm: quickly entering, faster leaving. You look like she does: sad eyes, pale skin, white teeth. In the mirror, she forgets which of two bodies she belongs to, imagines melding together and walking out the door: one. In sleep, she is taller, enough to rest her chin on the crown of your head; teeth clack as you laugh. You seemed so happy.

On ground, her feet are heavy; they slide backwards, drag forward. At times, she can’t stand but to stand so still and watch the world warp wild. Each morning she wakes unsure which reality she’ll occupy; can’t make up her mind, she’s drifting. Existing at the tip-of-her-tongue, her memories play out from a shaky, metal reel. She yanks the handle, cranks the gears — more work than it’s worth.

Dear God, She Wishes She Believed — in anything but this self-taught search for meaning. She’s thinking it’d be easier for someone to tell her what to think. She watches passersby, is closer to strangers, feels like a stranger to herself. For a second, she sees herself in the crowd — flash of blonde hair, a sea of gray; no one’s stopping her. Apathy’s a funny feeling.

Dionne is singing again. “If you see me walking down the street and I start to cry each time we meet, walk on by…” She’s sick of crying, has cried herself empty. She can’t help that she needs someone to depend upon. Her anxiety, the silent buzz of a car, the hot thick heat of exhaust in her mouth, a silent death, so slow. In a fit of resentment, she sends a searing text. Next morning, thick apologies, she pours cool blue water on the ashes of torched bridges. Such a fine line between loving you and hating herself.

She keeps trying to do something different, hopes maybe a hobby might help. She finds herself chasing: fleeting lyrics, fuzzy memories, the bottom of a glass. She used to make fun of codependent couples — such sweet ignorance. If she tips her head back too quickly, ice falls upon the bridge of her nose: the coldest slap of reality.

On the screen, she loathes her pixelated self. If she hears her voice one more time she’ll dissipate into a ghost, separate mind and body. She’s looking for something, even when she knows it’s (you’re) not there. In her bed, her dogs lay beside her, warm flanks and soft panting — she tries not to think of you. It’s the same thing again: loving somebody out of her life, somethingfartoogoodtofeel.