Wednesday, September 30, 2009

the second wind: first night in medan

the silver rain came down in torrents, wounding the ground as it bled its dirty blood. i stared out my window from my one-room home in disbelief. the doors were rattling from the weather's anger and the constant thunder seemed to numb my senses. i opened the door and sat on my tiny makeshift stoop to watch the rain of medan. my counterpart (ibu zulfah) and her husband had just dropped me off after spending my first evening in medan with her family. at her house, i met much of her extended family and played with her four children. my favorite was irfahn, the stubborn nine year old who kept poking me and laughing at his own ingeniousness. his chubby belly was too tempting to not tickle. i spoke to people in broken indonesian as they tried to reply in broken english. the former english teacher that was here before did not speak any indonesian at all, so they were very happy that i could speak any. i felt like a four year old, pointing to things and racking my brain to label them in indonesian. they humored me and were delighted when i was right. i was asked to sing a michael jackson song and when i started singing black or white, irfahn started to grab his pant crotch and squealed "yeeaaa." i had been up since 5 am and wanted to get to my house to sleep the first real night's rest i would have gotten in 4 days. so we left for my house and i said bye to everyone, promising to see them again soon.

ibu zulfah asked if i was sure i wanted to stay the night by myself. she said i could spend the night with her family if i wanted to. i said "no thanks, i would be alright alone"--i was really looking forward to just passing out. the second they left the driveway, the rain came and my tears came. it was like god teasing me.

god: so you think you can be on your own , like for real? without any of your american friends (like you had at the novotel) or family for 8 months?

me: yes.

god: good. heres a mindblowingly ridiculous downpour mixed with some thunder just in case you werent anxious enough already.

so there i am, on this mini-stoop in my new city; a city that was a mere dot on an abstract map just a few weeks ago. the feeling of being completely on my own in a new country settled in, and it was invigorating. it seems to be an essential element of life--mastering the art of independence. with independence, fresh innocence resurfaces. watching the rain reminded me i have to take in the new culture through fresh eyes...uncolored by western ideologies and my american upbringing. we all have a lens through which we see the world...i hoped to clean my lenses from american debris as much as possible before taking in the new culture i was about to immerse myself into.

its funny how quickly we begin to call the places we occupy our home, even though those who help make it our home are scattered throughout that place and oftentimes even across the world.

i am one lucky bastard.

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