Friday, June 5, 2009

Rain Season

It was raining when I first arrived in Moscow. I’d been in Beijing twelve days before and gotten lost in Siberia after the Trans-Siberian left me in Irkutsk and I caught an Aeroflot out to Novosibirsk that saved my life. I stood for five hours in the middle of Red Square shivering and waiting for Steve who came bounding out from behind a statue of Lenin and I wrapped my arms around him and couldn’t tell if my cheeks were wet from the rain or the tears at the thought that this would be the greatest adventure of my life and I was only twenty-four.
It was blazing the first time I stood on the equator. I’d come from Malaysia through Medan by fishing boat to wander the countryside of Sumatra. A small craft run by men with dark skin and no shoes, and I sat on the deck in a nest of hardened sun soaked twine and the heat cut down on my neck like a guillotine and the Indian Ocean was limey green and smelled of sweat and oil. Five days later I would leave Lake Toba aboard a bus with chickens and goats and be mugged by street boys who poked at me with broken coke bottles before escaping to Singapore. I remember thinking as I entered the harbor at sunset that life was just a dream.
It was autumn the first time I went to New York. We drove in a yellow taxi into Manhattan and there were endless rows of streets, each one like a movie kiss. Red brick front stoops. Brownstone walk-ups. Halloween orange pumpkins. We stayed in the W Hotel and Adrian Brody was in the lobby and the room cost $450 a night and it was no bigger than a walk in closet. Central Park with benches and ice skaters and stone bridges and I called my mother from atop the Empire State Building and told her I was standing in the capital of the world.
It was snowing my first time in the Czech Republic. Loren and I left our apartment in Budapest and wound up in Cesky Krumlov for my twenty-fifth birthday and I wandered back to the boarding house across the bridge and laid down on the ice to watch stars and my legs froze and Loren found me and carried me inside like a sack of potatoes and the next morning the woman cooked us waffles with actual Tang.
Today I awoke in Taichung to sheets of rain pouring across the city and little Lauren Kinu sitting in my lap giggling to Teletubbies in Chinese. My two other daughters were at school and I seemed so far away from adventure all cooped up in our apartment with the muggy air and toasted peanut butter sandwiches. Is it only just memories? Is it only just rain drops running down a smudgy window pane? What about those that played it safe, what questions do they ask themselves when they are shut inside? No matter. That’s the thing about rain, tomorrow, there may be sun.

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