Thursday, July 28, 2005

Rain, Celestial Mountains, Coffee

Big bad storm last night. MZA kept saying to the kids, “Isn’t it beautiful?” Because he likes rain. I found this out early on when he took me to a factory worker’s rest “sanatorium” on a reservoir formed by three wild mountain rivers in a gorge of Uzbekistan's Tien Shan moutains. Tien Shan means "celestial mountains" in Chinese.

He invited me, so I flew up from Samarkand to Tashkent. He met me at the airport and we took the train with Jonathan and Alona up to the foot of the climb. Alona and I got a taxi (someone who will stop their car for a fee) and climbed up into the mountains until we got to a four story white block building with no markers or adornment situated on the shores of the artificial lake. Jon and MZA walked up themselves because there wasn’t another car to take them. Alona and I sat outside for a long time, just waiting for the men. It was a little awkward but we finally saw them, tall American Jonathan and shorter Uzbek MZA, walking jauntily in a heat wiggled haze toward us.

It was a beautiful weekend, a really beautiful weekend. On one of the mornings, there was a huge downpour. I remember lying in the pushed together twin beds and looking at the small cloudy glass next to my bed with wildflowers in it. I got nauseated the first day I was there. According to everyone (Russians and Uzbeks are excellent diagnosticians), the sun at that altitude was famous for making people nauseous. MZA brought me the wildflowers to cheer me up. The morning of the downpour, he wrapped a sheet around himself, stood on the balcony and watched the rain sweep across the aquamarine colored water, obscuring the surrounding green, snowcapped moutains. It was nice to know that he liked the weather when it wasn’t perfect; that he appreciated every facet of things and not just the simplistic, one-dimensional, narrow-minded, visionless interpretation of what constitutes a beautiful day.

Anyway, last night MZA had just finished nuking the Stouffer’s mac ‘n cheese--the no-brainer, reach for it, crowd pleasin’, sure fire alternative to cooking--when the electricity went off. We had dinner by candlelight, then walked out and convened with an impromptu gathering of neighbors. We walked around the neighborhood surveying the damage. I will say this for Americans; they are a curious, determined, pretty resilient lot. They always want to know what happened, what was the damage—how can we help.

Afterwards, we sat in the living room with the windows open and lit the leftover red Christmas candles MZA salvaged from my mother’s house. Ian said, “I really, really scared.” And he really was because, “it’s dark.” Daisy and Nick were oblivious to any potential invisible threats. I took a shower in the candelight to cool off and we went to bed with the windows open.

I woke up in a good mood for the first time in a long time. The air was clear after the rain pushed everything away. Ian said, “Can you stay to me, Mommy?”

Still no electricity, so no coffee. I stopped at Starbucks and my jaw dropped at the price. No wonder every single solitary money guru in the universe cautions against spending your retirement at Starbucks. Holy shit. $3.50 for a venti skim latte. Before I got to the coffee bar—I felt like I was going for methadone or something—I went to Safeway for a frozen organic lunch and the checker kept saying something to me and I could NOT figure out what she was saying. I had to turn to the woman in front of me—yet another Natalie Wood in a black tulle skirt, black beaded flip flops and a white top—to imploringly beg with my eyes what the checker was saying to me. She looked at me like I was a serious moron, which—no offense—I am not all that used to, and explained in really clipped, talking-to-an-idiot consonants what the woman was telling me. The checker said, “You’re not quite awake yet are you?” Uh, no, I guess not. Hmm weird. Life without evening TV brought on a cooling nighttime candlit shower, a glimpse at the New Yorker, conversation with MZA and a decaff morning. And I was happier. Hmmm.


Cynicism is another word for reality

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