I returned to Tōkyō at the end of the month. Sensei had vacated his own summer place a good while earlier. On parting from Sensei, I'd asked if I might call on him from time to time. In a curt manner, he replied merely that, yes, I was welcome to stop by. I felt we'd developed a strong bond, and I'd expected something a little more heartfelt. His tepid response took my confidence down a notch.
In many such cases, I met with mild disappointment. It's possible that Sensei was aware of this, or it could be he had no idea. Through all these minor disappointments, I was never inclined to end our association. On the contrary, in fact, each brush with insecurity drew me further along. Up ahead, I believed, whatever it was I hoped for would appear before my eyes, and all would be right. I was in my youth. However, I was not inclined to expend my youthful energy on just anyone. I didn't know what it was, but something about Sensei warranted my engagement. Now at last, after Sensei's passing, I've begun to understand. From the very start, Sensei never disliked me. His occasional curt reply or cool demeanor were neither expressions of displeasure nor intent to drive me away. Sensei, wretched in his own being, was wont to hold others at arm's length. Believing himself unworthy, he fended off all who approached too near. Sensei's aversion to intimacy, rather than rising from disdain for others, was rooted in disdain for himself.
When I returned to Tōkyō, I had every intention of calling on Sensei. There were still two weeks before the start of classes, and I thought to go once in the interim. After being back for a few days, though, those feelings from Kamakura began to fade. The mood of the vibrant city, and the excitement of re-engaging in its rhythms, fully occupied my mind. As I saw the streets full of students, I felt anew the aspirations and apprehensions of a coming school year. For a while, I thought no further of Sensei.