What does it mean? According to the internet - “Bokeh is a word with Japanese origins, defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light.” The word comes from the Japanese word boke (暈け or ボケ), which means “haze” or “blur.” (The “h” was introduced to help English speakers pronounce the word correctly [BO - KEH].)”
Took me a while to find it. The way I discovered Bokeh, it was a movie, on television in the middle the night, but it might have been some other art form, a dream, a nightmare, a walk in the deep snow.
I was switching channels when I saw a blonde. I stopped. Something about seeing yourself on tv. I began to be pulled into the story - lovers on a brief, impromptu vacation in Iceland, just a lark, enjoying themselves.
I still didn’t have the word, Bokeh. I still didn’t know the story. Until I did, the whole experience floated in a blur.
The way we see the future. The nature of the future.
All we really know is that we love.
Lovers, making love. They fall asleep. She wakes up, alone, at the witching hour, 3:30 a.m. She’s gazing out the window when suddenly a flash of white light, so bright, it consumes the view, then, back to reality, back to bed.
But daylight brings a new reality.
Perhaps a devastating snow storm, a blizzard. Perhaps a pandemic. Perhaps Iceland will be closed. Italy closed. How could such a thing happen? Overnight? Who or what would close Italy? I begin to worry about the Eiffel Tower.
It was lovely the way it happened. They get up, get dressed and go down the café to get some of those lovely waffles they’d had the day before. But the nice lady who’d made them wasn’t there. In fact, no one was there. The café was empty.
The stores are empty. Giggling, they help themselves to some Icelandic goodies, a fur coat for her, a funny knit cap for him. Food is free! They pile it into a shopping cart and run back to the hotel.
Now they are camping.
I still don’t know what’s happening. I haven’t read the synopsis. That’s the best way. I don’t even have the title, not that it would help. Bokeh.
I bought the movie, just to have it, I propped the case up in my bedroom. It came to mean, on its own, a question, a deep question, deeper, why do we live? Where do we live? Where do we love?
She wants to go home. I'm beginning to feel the larger tension. They are on an island and there is no way off. Everyone is gone. There’s no one to run the airline, no-one to fly the plane.
She gets angry that he is eating a yogurt out of sequence. “The blueberry is newer! You should be eating the strawberry, it’s older!” she scolds him. “I didn’t feel like having a strawberry,” he explains. Makes perfect sense to me.
They syphon gas and take a car. I shudder. Don’t go too far, I warn, then I realize it makes no difference.
They drive to the hot springs, which becomes their spot. Lovely scene of naked lovers swimming. Iceland seems a perfect backdrop. Bare and primitive. A good place for life to begin again.
Every now and then, there are moments of hope. Maybe she’ll have a baby! She’d be lucky to get through it alone, but then, it’s a story and maybe she will.
He gets a little crazy and hurts himself riding around the market on a shopping cart. His arm is bleeding. She cries out, “We have to be careful! There’s no 911!”
Then, I remember saying those very words myself.
“There’s no 911!” Hospitals aren’t taking non-essential injuries. Broken bones are waiting hours in the Emergency Room, if that.
All our care providers called us up and cancelled our check-ups. Luckily, we keep healthy. But, even healthy people need care. A dentist, perhaps. First do no harm. Do dentists take the Hippocratic Oath? My husband has a bad heart. We have to be careful. Physical stresses, even tooth pain, could be deadly for him.
But, what about people who need operations? Nothing. They have to wait. The people, God help me, who let their immune systems die. Some guy ate a bat, a comedian quips. Or did the lab release a secret bio-weapon? Either way, we are stuck in a real life horror movie.
Then, the police said they would stop responding because people were shooting at them. No 911.
I don’t remember everything about the movie. I remember the feeling of finding my soul in the middle of the night. I remember the lovers finding old man. They had a meal together in the evening. In the morning, the old man was dead.
I begin to see my injuries as Bokeh, my nasal passage, months later, after finally getting those two infected molars removed. The dentist said, I might have nasal issues. Good God! I’m gonna need that! My nasal passage! I have a dream that I am in a airplane terminal with my mother and I am explaining to her that there is a girl I wish to follow - a blonde girl - she’s right behind that plastic tarp - she saved the airplane and I want to go where she is, through the tarp to the other side. My mother is oblivious to my desires. My husband said she never understood that I wanted to fly.
We are macrobiotic, and yes, we can fly without an airplane.
I begin to call it, Bokeh, all of it. The hole in my mouth, the empty nasal passage. Dreams of my mother. Bokeh, the mystery. Bokeh, the future. I still don’t know the official meaning of the word. But, I get it.
I won’t spoil the ending of the film, except to say there is no resolution. No alien invasion. No superhero to the rescue. No government experiment, though we know they exist. Suffice it to say that I shall keep this film to my heart till I die.
I finally find the meaning of the word (I was spelling it wrong): “Bokeh is a word with Japanese origins, defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light.” The word comes from the Japanese word boke (暈け or ボケ), which means “haze” or “blur.” (The “h” was introduced to help English speakers pronounce the word correctly [BO - KEH].)”
The way the future looks. Now, it means so much more.
What will we make of it?
©Patricia Goodwin, 2022
Patricia Goodwin is the author of When Two Women Die, about Marblehead legends and true crime and its sequel, Dreamwater, about the Salem witch trials and the vicious 11-year-old pirate Ned Low. Holy Days is her third novel, about the sexual, psychological seduction of Gloria Wisher and her subsequent transformation. Her latest novel is Low Flying, about two women suffering psychologically abusive marriages who find and nurture each other. Her newest poetry books are Telling Time By Apples, And Other Poems About Life On The Remnants of Olde Humphrey Farme, illustrated by the author, and Java Love: Poems of a Coffeehouse.
Within this blog, Patricia writes often about non-fiction subjects that inspire or disturb her, hopefully informing and inspiring people to be happy, healthy and free.