Deeply asleep in the middle of my huge bed, a seemingly omnipresent feeling of gratitude for the fan blowing cool air over my body. The window is open, the big glass doors are also and it's almost like sleeping outside except really, really comfortably.
Around 4 am, I feel a shift in my awareness.
Something is pulling me out of the seductive depths of sleep, up up up, and up some more.
A familiar yet almost forgotten smell.
I try to not make words in my mind. I try to just feel this smell with my eyes closed. And I do. It's sensual, it's visceral, it's dynamic, it's rich.
The smell of rain on dirt.
The smell of life, of earth, of mustiness on very, very thirsty dirt.
"Here it is" I smile quietly.
She is coming. The rain.
The rain that has been gone since October, the rain that we're all talking about - even though we very possibly will be complaining about it in a few weeks. I wait.
That's when Lila starts barking and that's when the sky gently opens up.
A drizzle. A sweet, sweet drizzle that lands like an answered prayer over each leaf in my yard and over the thousands of trees in the jungle.
I imagine a common sigh of pleasure.
Then I hear it. The smell is still loudest but yes, I hear it.
I reach for my phone to share the news with someone I love.
"It's here," I say quietly.
It's here and it's going to be here for a while. It will quench the thirst, it will fill the wells. It will bring chaos, too. The three riverbeds will eventually start flowing and I have no way of knowing whether they will become deeper than what my quad or car can cross. This is my first summer living in the country and I guess that there are going to be surprises.
But tonight, the smell.
The blessed, blessed smell.
As of last week, I feel pretty confident that I have taken the steps needed to protect my home for the hot and rainy season and to live comfortably in it.
The roof is waterproofed, A/Cs are ready to go, outside furniture is re-arranged, and I have finally given myself permission to take over the casita as a full-on art studio (this took some serious mental work on my part, I will write about this soon).
I still need to do a little rust-proofing on my iron doors but for the most part, I think we're good at least until the first downpour - at which time we may have more information, hopefully nothing big.
So there I was, sitting in the garden with my friend eating breakfast when she casually mentioned that she needed to make-some-light-covers-out-of-water-bottles for her land.
"You know, for the rain."
I am READY for the rain! I am READY. What was she talking about?
Between two bites of mango, she points at my outdoor light bulbs. Painted a warm yellow (I am a lighting snob), they are indeed bare and dangling. Actually the same is true for my indoor light bulbs - painted yellow and bare and dangling - as I was looking forward to making my own sconces out of clay but that's another story. They look uncharacteristically unfinished but somehow, they haven't bothered me. There's something sweet about a little part of the house not finished. A reminder of the days, not that long ago, when I wasn't sure anything was going to get finished.
Until now. Until I learn that guess what? There is more to do.
But hey, I like the idea of the water bottle lamp shade. I like the idea of using these plastic bottles however I can because goodness, there are so many of them all over the place.
Yesterday, during an early morning walk, I spotted a perfectly lampshade-to-be water bottle inside a recycling bin. It was one of these nice blue ones. I reached in and walked home with it. I love that I got it out of the bin, for some reason. Tropical dumpster diving turned into a home project.
This morning, before it got too hot, I decided to give it a try.
I cut the bottle, took off the label, and started to play with the whole thing, figuring out how it was going to work. If I took the bulb out, I could slip the bulb fitting over the neck of the now half-bottle. It was loose so I walked into my little studio and unearthed a piece of hard foam I knew I had kept "for something." I made the bottleneck smaller and it worked great. I then covered the plate with electrical tape and of course, drew some doodles on the bottle.
I believe it is all pretty protected now. There is plenty of air and room between the bulb and the bottle. I think it is going to work great.
I love it. I love everything about it.
And today, I am going to look through more recycling bins for my three other outdoor bulbs.
Heck, I may even tackle the indoor lights!
Preparing to go to the States for a short visit, preparing to attend what sounded like a fancy college graduation, I wanted to spruce up a little and made an appointment to get some color in my hair.
Off and on for the last ten years, I have played with my hair color, most often doing it myself and most often choosing some hues that are not likely to grow out of a human head. I have a preference for shiny burgundies or sassy reds, especially the way they glow under the sun.
But this time, this time I needed two things: reasonable, non-flip-flop shoes and a normal-looking hair color. I was very aware that a fancy church in Georgia called for a very different attire than the jungly beach environment I have grown used to.
So when I sat down to look at color options, a couple of towns away from my home, I made sure to dismiss anything that said "fun." This was not the time for fun, this was the time to blend in with all the other parents, whom I had decided would have very normal hair colors.
Blending in is not my strength.
The owner of the salon raised a perfectly shaped highbrow when I pointed to something dark brown and invited me to sit in her chair.
Alone in the air-conditioned room, we chatted. Twice she asked me to confirm the color, and the second time I felt compelled to explain to her where I was going and why the dark brown.
As she mixed the color, she asked me about my work, my life. She told me a little about hers. I sensed that there was more she was deciding whether to share or not.
I waited, watching the dark chocolate-colored stuff take over my whole head.
I asked her if she liked her work. A simple, neutral enough question.
Which I knew had the power to turn the key in its lock.
She stopped moving her hands and bore her eyes into mine, in the mirror.
"I like my work but I hate my life."
Hands went back to work. I exhaled.
"Tell me more?" I invited.
That's when I learned of the addiction. The nights away from her home and daughter as she gave in to the rush of trying to win some money.
This is an addiction I am not familiar with and I readjusted my idea of what a gambler looked like. I could not come up with a picture (probably because there isn't one) but whatever it was certainly did not look like this young pretty mom and business owner.
We talked. Mostly she talked. The self-loathing was hard to hear. The pain, the shame. The fear too.
After a while someone walked in and we could not continue our conversation.
Also, my hair was done cooking and it was time to rinse it.
Once rinsed, she dried it a little and went on to talk with her next client.
Meanwhile, I stared in the mirror, frozen.
It was dark brown alright. Not my own natural dark brown which has some tiny bits of madness to it. No no. This was the kind of dark brown which would go well with the beige chairs at a DMV office. Dark. Brown.
I felt my soul shrink a little.
I told myself to relax. I told myself that it was perfect. I told myself that it wasn't forever. I told myself that I would blend in nicely inside the church. Possibly even match the pews.
And then I felt sad. How weird is that? Just... sad.
Sad like someone who has abandoned herself. THIS sad.
When my new friend stood behind me, she put her hands on my shoulders, and this time it was her turn to wait till I spoke. I think without her hands there, holding me true to myself, I would have said thank you, paid and walked out. But she stood there, looking at me looking at myself in the mirror, making space and silently inviting me.
I could not ask her to change it. I could not be "that person." I could not be difficult.
Except I was so embarrassingly sad.
So I said... "do you think..."
"Si!" She answered. "Claro que si!" And off she went concocting something that would add life to my head while not hurting my hair too much.
Later, while I shook my burgundy-hued curls, she told me that she had known all along that this had been a bad idea.
It's so darn good to be seen, to be known. Even when we feel that we want to betray ourselves just a little bit for some special event.
As I left the salon, we hugged and I whispered something I now can't remember in her ear. She squeezed harder and nodded her head.
In a short bit of time, we had given each other the powerful Gift of Being Seen.
SCARED OF THE SACRED