January 2010


monday morning splat-
ters on a glass window pane
swollen raindrops fall

A predawn haiku when the waves of rain hit the window so hard I woke up and the cars sloshing loudly by on the road outside kept me tossing and turning. Then I stuffed a pillow over my ears and lingered in sleep until 9 am, oh, what a morning.

Some impressive precipitation and the trees sway to the rhythm of the rain sheets. I remember when it used to snow gobs in January. Once in 1996 a blizzard came in that left snow so high it took 9 hours for us to clear the long driveway to the farm house. Then the wind kicked up snowdrifts as high as the outbuilding rooftops. We made tunnels and the horses were confined to a gated-off portion of plowed driveway–the gates to their pastures where hidden by snow. When it finally settled enough that we could take them out riding, my pony’s legs got stuck in snow that scraped his belly; we had to turn back.

But now it rains and there’s a chance we’ll see some flooding, the birds chirp and the air feels to be somewhere around 40 degrees. So much for winter in PA.

Strange to have left the mountains and be voluntarily here in the Northeast hills I’d thought I’d never return to. Strange to wake in the morning and not care that there’s no snow, be excited that it’s 45 degrees and I can run in shorts. Since returning from Nepal I’ve had this subdued gray cloud hovering over my head, around my head really, and I haven’t been able to see much beyond it. Maybe it’s these never ending January days that seem to have stretched into months of their own. It could be the parasite I’ve been sharing my food with since leaving Kathmandu. Or, perhaps, it’s the drop back to reality, the far tumble from the elation and freedom of wandering through a country as pristinely beautiful as Nepal.

Whatever it is, the fog slowly lifts a little higher each day. Though today it stays with the rain, the rain that tumbles so steadily from the sky. Welcome to winter in PA.

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11-24-09 Yesterday I hovered along California’s coast after spending nearly 10 hours crossing her Pacific ocean. Folds of gold and green ripples grew from the water’s white furled edges, rolled inward toward the smokey Sierra Nevada just visible in the distance. Our plane coasted closer to the suddenly-appearing landmass, my nose pressed against the cold pressurized cabin window, mouth half-jarred in a disbelieving smile. The hills along the coast unfolded further, surrendered to the bay of San Francisco. There was Saulsilito, I recognized, Treasure Island, the Golden Gate Bridge. Andy! I called out laughing, we can see the bridge! Rows upon rows of city blocks and streets, the defined blocks of green public parks, snaking col du sacs built to circumnavigate soft peaked hillsides, it all looked so tidy, so distinctly planned and organized, so not like Kathmandu. And in all of these things so beautiful.

The skyline emerged from the flatness around it, thrust its scrapers skyward. Our plane curled around, hung above the waters of the bay so closely I thought for a half-second we would splash down, our epic 35 hour journey from Asia would end mere meters from our destination in the murky bay waters, just beside the runway. We sailed forward farther, the plane shuddered and gently bucked as the wheels touched town and I giggled. What an incredible landing!

Home. The most elusively defined word in my vocabulary. The word that seems to change with the rhythm of a traffic light, within the parameters of ‘could be anywhere.’ Yesterday my cramped air plane seat was home, the night before it was the 24 hour coffee shop at the Singapore airport, the week prior Room 120 at Kathmandu’s Hotel Malla, before that wherever my orange tent stakes were stuck in the soil of the Himalaya. If you want to get technical, Colorado is home. Technically that’s where my driver’s license was issued, technically I’m registered to vote there, technically I have a PO Box, less technically my pile of boxes and belongings are shoved into my best friend’s storage closet somewhere in the mountains. But beyond the technicalities, it’s just another beautiful place where I find myself when I don’t know where else to go. During the months I was wandering in Nepal, sleeping in my cozy orange tent, basking in the freedom of nomadism, I engaged in a regular debate with myself: I should go back, I shouldn’t go back, but Manasseh, you don’t even have a room, a house, a hole-in-the-wall there, you don’t even have a job, what are you going back to? The mountains, I told myself, a boy I think I really like, ski season. My answers became weaker and less grounded as weeks wore on, my excuses for returning less valid, practical, appealing. It became a matter of convenience above all: my car is there, my material items, my skis, some friends, working potential (working where? potentially somewhere…). The boy, much of it came down to the boy. After two months of scattered emails hastily typed and read in remote Himalayan village internet cafes, I was ready to spend more time with the boy.

And so, eventually back to Colorado I’ll head, but first, a week of San Francisco with my wonderful older sister awaits. I’ve put off the home, the job, the rest of it for two months, may as well extend my responsibility procrastination another week and enjoy my homeless jobless freedom a little longer. Until I find another one, home, for now, is right here in the Golden Gate city. Oh, the life spent wandering.

There’s a white zopkiok outside my tent and it keeps making noises, deep throaty grumbles and soft cooing moos. Night has fallen but the animal’s white bulk remains softly illuminated by the florescent bulb outside the lodge whose yard we’re camped in. My tent is a lovely orange dome, a well-lit haven where I can easily stretch my legs, shoulder s and arms.

Today we walked through to just past Phakding. It was a quiet day on a busy trail through this beautiful, though clearly western influenced, land. The rocky, worn path led us past Best View and Paradise lodges, signs calling out Chinese, Italian, American cuisine. Out of a German bakery and cyber cafe, loud music blared, a call to weary hikers ready for a Himalayan internet fix. On the patio sat a group of white-skinned westerners drinking lattes and sitting comfortable in plastic chairs. Most of the Sherpas I spotted were guides with a duck row of trekkers in tow.

Ahead of us on a metal cable suspension bridge, a dapple gray pony walked alone, its sturdy legs stayed steady to the bounce of bodies on the bridge. When he reached the other side, he continued on the gravel pathway of town, meandering to his own agenda like a stray dog.