Tuesday, May 20, 2014
You are 8, and you're sitting in the air-conditioned box that is your grandfather's apartment in Taipei. The sweat of pneumonia has finally left you, Bobby McFerrin is on the radio, and your knees are jutting up on the hard, wooden chair. Between your palms, you hold a precious mango, carved inside out like the softest gold jewel. Juice drips from your hands and sticks to your elbows. You bite.
You are 17, and you haven't left yet. You haven't known death yet, you haven't fallen in love with cities yet. You are lying on your back in a wet field in the middle of nowhere, with a friend whom you will grow apart from. It's the first time stars mean anything to you. You begin to drowse, then you realize that clacking noise you hear is not construction, not a dream. Something begins running out of the woods, and you scramble with your friend toward the car, forgetting your shoes behind you in the grass, laughing with terror.
You are 21, and you are in a Mexican Polish neighborhood of Chicago. The sound of bachata echoes off brick walls. August's humidity hangs limp in the air. You're walking toward your car when a skinny orange kitten mewls at you. He is sitting on the roof of an abandoned car in the alleyway. He jumps off and gets into yours. You say no, but then you say yes.
You are 30, and for once the weather isn't oppressive on your birthday. You're in Sheep's Meadow, buildings like stalagmites surrounding a perfect green carpet. Someone has hung up a dinosaur filled with candy on a tree. You grip a bat. Eyes closed, you swing as hard as you can, wait for the sweetness to fall.