The sky got so dark today it felt like we’d made a pillow fort, hiding under until our parents got home.
Thunderstorms – there’s nothing quite like them to jog you. You could be buried in the deepest office and still hear the sky crack and clouds shake open. And watching the rain come down reminds you what it takes to grow.
We rode out the storm for three hours this afternoon while the power went in and out. The bank got dark then brighter. I was helping a woman open a checking account and tried to hurry. No luck. When we were done, she was facing the full faucet of the storm.
Now it’s cooler. The rain scooped the heat out. And we’ve already forgotten a week of hundred degree weather, content to chirp with the frogs all evening, reveling in something comfortable, and that’s okay, as long as we wake up tomorrow without forgetting what it as like to be bone-dry and half-starved, that the world is still just one week away from roasting, that we’re responsible, like it or not.
Why the Egyptian, Arabic, Abyssinian, Choctaw? Well, what tongue does the wind talk? What nationality is a storm? What country do rains come from? What color is lightning? Where does thunder go when it dies?
We were promised thunderstorms. I checked the weather all week. At work, I heard from customers about their houses getting water-logged. I was excited, but I never saw a drop.
In my novel, I write about the Anpanman museum in Fukuoka. I hadn’t been there so I looked up lots of pictures. There’s a big glass ceiling over the stage where they do costume shows. I thought: I wish I had seen it rain from below the glass. There were lots of storms in Japan but never one while I was in Fukuoka. Now, since the novel, my memory of that city is changed: raining, static, wet and overwhelming.
It’s made me doubt myself more broadly. If I can rewrite a place for a novel, couldn’t I be doing that with the rest of my life? My four years of philosophy come out like spring spiders and start eating this and that certainty; I sit with Descartes at a candlelit desk and contemplate. I’ve known for a while that I don’t know much of anything, but to think that maybe I’m less in touch with things I thought I did? Spooky – where’s the Halloween candy?
But when the doubt fades I sort of love it. My life, your life, we’re narratives. That’s romantic. Telling you my story until it changes, until the me between your two ears is one that I don’t even know.
Outside, clouds are coming. We were promised thunderstorms. A little out of sight, the sky bled like a new mother, birth-marking peat and loam.
Coffee: Organic Sumatra Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand; Last day of it! All in all, an acceptable coffee. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. One of those part-time jobs that take you through a rough, quick season.
I took tea in Chapel Hill last night. The town’s changed. I’ve been saying that every visit for four years or more. There was a time when I lived in Chapel Hill. Our apartment was off the highway. Sometimes we’d walk across the highway and across the train tracks and through Carrboro to Franklin, to one or two different blue-awning buildings, to have a drink or spend too much on dinner.
We got caught in a thunderstorm once. The wind took Franklin like a frightened mother. We drank pints and watched the cockroaches hurry over the counter. We were the only customers at four p.m.. I didn’t have a job. I was a Duke kid in a UNC town. She was a part-time au pair. Years later, we went back and got caught in another storm. I had an umbrella. I had to hold her to keep her under. For me it was fire, for her – well, something pretty tame.
But last night I mostly got lost in other memories. Like Chapel Hill, life keeps changing.
Currently Reading: The Pardoner’s Tale, by John Wain
“It was slow and unconscious immersion, but here I am, irrevocably lovelorn, just like many others.” – Linnie Greene, excerpt from her story featured in 27 Views of Chapel Hill (Found on the Chapel Hill Visitors Bureau website; inexplicably, Linnie Greene is an old friend and I didn’t expect to see a quote from her)