Sunday, January 14, 2007

Windows

The morning draft somehow crept its way to my side of the room, though Rome isn’t known for its winds but rather the ancient remains of a world left behind but never forgotten. My roommate was left undisturbed, curled in his bed, inches from the pane. Accompanied only by the noisy bustle of the early morning rush of the civilians in the streets below, the cool air swept over me as I eased the kitchen balcony door open and re-invited Italy into the cold, dark drab apartment. The sweet but faint aroma of distant open air market fish hung on the fresh air, mixed with the strangely intoxicating presence of the rush-traffic exhaust and the leftover soup I had simmering for breakfast on the unevenly heated range. It all filled me. To be thousands and thousands of miles away and yet to be at home in a place where a day could find me completely lost and yet completely happy at the same time.Beyond the window pane, splashed with the warm colors of the low brilliant evening sun, I could see the line of traffic bustling into the already busy park. The company of Mickey and Minney and the others caused the tumult here again tonight, all in tense anticipation for the fireworks that will fill the sky for yet another dark, clear crisp magical evening. California never seemed to see dark days, a na├»ve and ridiculous evaluation of a mere five day visit, and yet it seemed simple and romantic to believe the Magic Kingdom was truly just that. As the colors in the sky faded and shifted from oranges to violets, I pressed my hands and my forehead to the glass and closed my eyes in an effort to soak in my final sunset here in Los Angeles, the possible home of all my futures.It’s noisy, as usual. The concrete frame thatwas the skeletal construct of the building couldn’t shield us from the bustle of the world beyond these cold walls. I can feel the tile beneath my feet, as cold as any surface, here, but comprised along with the cold concrete everything of what I knew to be home. The sweltering afternoon Manila heat was a smokescreen, quite possibly only attributable to the vehicle pollution from below and the streets not visible from the balcony I stood on. The air was infused with sound: cars, children, basketballs, corner markets and the quiet. The quiet calm of the park beyond the high wall that carefully guarded it across the street. The University of Santo Tomas was like a citadel, hidden away in a pocket of the metropolis, green as any field or alcove miles from city limits and yet buried deep deep within it. I can smell the smoke in the air, the origins of which varied from the slums to the traffic to the presence of the city’s energy output or the burning of Filipino food in some distant or nearby kitchen, but was oddly inviting; smelled anywhere else in the world, it always brought me back to this place. All this was felt or seen or heard, while barely able to clear the balcony ledge to experience it as any adult would, barely yet able to think true, clear thoughts.

Lately, I’ve been trying to find my windows again. Views of the world from a height or a distance or some other expanse that allowed me to step back and see what was shielded or hidden before; the remaining words to a shard of song lyrics, the final items on a long-forgotten to do list. I guess I’ve been searching for my windows more lately because I’ve been losing sleep. I’ve been anxious. I’ve even left alone or forgotten and that is a kind of sad I am not willing to tolerate. And all these sentiments throw me into confusion and sometimes, I sit up in my inability to fall into my subconscious yet again wondering things like who do other people pray for when they go to sleep at night, or what good am I if can’t be broken, or… other things. I’ve been looking at my fortune cookies for comfort, but the trivial nature of poetic idealism has grown tired, and I’m no longer looking to the oblivion of fabricated, deluded happiness. But wait, when I think about it, I know exactly what is making me feel this way…but there is nothing I can do about it.

I love my dog. Yesterday, he walked into the room, sniffed around at my coat and my bag after I had trudged in at the end of the day and then looked me in the eyes, his frayed, blue bandana draped so facilely around his neck. I knew he was at his window before. He always looked out that window. Out at a world he couldn’t run around to freely in, but one that he wouldn’t survive in. It was his comfort too, that window. His station. But today, he abandoned it to come and see me again.

He never smiles. I get that; this concerned, sagely, gaze always graced his face, even at the sweet age of six months. I felt so tired, so in need of solace. He came over to me, made a complete 180 and plopped down in front of me, facing the other direction, as if to protect me from the world. He turned his head and looked at me again, as if to say, “its ok. I got you. I understand.”

I threw my arms around him and waited for the sleep that would never come...but its ok, because he knows it. He knows it all.