Thinking of a Woxin story, I remembered the poem my friend Lorne sent me in Japan ages back (I'll explain in a minute why I didn't think of it as ages back until this afternoon, though it was fifteen or sixteen years ago) about our friend Richard's death. I keep thinking I've come across it but can never remember where, so I started going through the files, and in very short order started dumping stuff out of them. Magazine articles clipped in Japan about Gundam Wing and Sailor Moon and Channel 5; the chirashi of Papuwa circles collected at comic sales from '93 on; pamphlets from Japanese art galleries and parks; letter paper from various circles. All that has been weeded before and now has been weeeded again. Japan is definitely Past; it doesn't bother me to find relics of it because those are indeed Long Ago. And happily so. I can't remember things without something concrete to attach them to. Preferably the place itself, but the stuff I was reading then and the paper I amassed does just as well. The wastepaper basket full of dead tree in my bedroom is reminding me what a desolate wasteland Tokyo was most of the time and how very much I didn't enjoy living there.
But then there are more recent strata: letters people sent me before I left Japan in '96, letters people sent me after I came back, copies of Anime House Presents stories (anime-based stuff when anime was the province of a very few fen), fat files of tribs xeroxed from Strange Bedfellows the slash APA (you want meta, that was meta; god was it meta); slash Eroica stories people sent me in the late 90's-- the whole airless overheated world of slash that I wandered round the edges of in '96 and '97 and disliked so intensely for reasons I could never quite analyze. My own stories from the mid to late-90s, hard copy, with illustrations. Paper. Fandom was once a paper world and isn't any more. My last printed story is from '99. When I got into Saiyuki in 2000 my stories went online at once, even though I was still on dial-up; I never printed them out.
So yes, I spent the afternoon in the late 90's. I'm not sure which makes me sadder: that the world was indeed different than now and I didn't remember, or that it isn't essentially that different at all. Before there'd never have been any question: 18 to 28, 28 to 38, 38 to 48, were different universes at start and end, and I was a different person. And now ten years is only ten years. Same city, same house, same job, much the same friends even. Moved to online; moved to livejournal. Not at all the same as 'moved to Tokyo.'
(I did find the poem but now can't remember where it was. At any rate it's in my desk now, where it'll become lost again in the course of time.)