Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas, again.

I landed in America on Christmas Day. (Was it Seattle or San Francisco?) It was 1995. And I had sat next to my father on an EVA plane. I watched "Santa Clause," the funny movie I wasn't allowed to see with my friends earlier that day. "There's no time," father had barked. "You could miss your flight. It's too risky." This was a tragedy, I was going to see it with a boy I had a massive crush on!

Eleven years later,  I would've spent half of my life in America, and my first Christmas alone. I'd watch "The Mummy" and "Mummy Returns" on USA Network, and a game with the L.A. Lakers at Miami on ABC. I'd read Albert Camus's "The First Man" and ponder what to have for dinner. I'd make instant noodles with two dropped eggs. But before that, I'd look to the clock and see that it was 4:20. I'd reflect on how much I've changed in the last 11 years, and how, at 22, I still have so much more to learn. I'd find that I've not much clue who I am or what I want to do, but I'd know that I would go into work the next day as usual. I'd miss my coworkers as I work the 9-hour-day in the half-emptied office and wish I, too, were on vacation. After that, I'd maybe get a haircut or just walk from 64th and 2nd to Columbus Circle and catch the express train home.

(I wish an express train home was that easy.)

I'd watched "The Mummy" in the movie theatres at Greenfield one afternoon in spring 1999 with Alex B and Cleo S. I'd screamed when the mummy crept up, not because I was scared but because Cleo creeped from behind and made me squeal. I'd lost contact with Cleo S from Caracas, Venezuela since he graduated a year ahead of me. One Saturday night, walking from the Student Center, we were around East Hall when it began drizzling. I asked him how to say "it's raining, but the sky is beautiful." One summer, I'd dreamed that Cleo was dead. When I woke up, I wrote him a letter telling him how relieved I was to have woken from the dream. He never saw that letter. Neither did he see the subsequent letters I wrote later that summer.

Though a search for him on Google warrants no results (that I can understand), I know he is somewhere and well. Merry Christmas, my friend, and a happy new year.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A dancing man.

Sitting outside Bubbles, the laundromat between 119th and 120th, reading a pocket book on Degas and waiting for my clothes to dry, a man down the sidewalk was holding a phone against his ear and looking down at his feet as he lifted one foot and spun 360 degrees on the other. When he got closer, I heard music and realized he had not been talking on the phone. He had been listening to music as he practiced steps up and down the sidewalk and around the block. I looked away when he caught me staring. I looked down and pretended to read about Degas' ballet dancers.

When I looked up, he was still dancing.

Fifteen minutes later I was folding my fresh laundry when he walked by.

"Sorry I kept looking at you. It was really enjoyable watching you dance." I didn't get to tell him.

I looked again as I left the laundromat. He was using my dryer.