Monday, October 22, 2007
Friday, June 8, 2007
Whether either of these stories is true is beside the point. I haven't ever seen the size-no thing happen. But the point is that Eddie is big, which is why I enjoy following closely behind him as we traverse the more densely populated streets in Seoul. He's especially good in getting around that corner where Jongno meets Insadong, where the crowds are hemmed in by jewelry shops on one side and carts selling stuffed animals and handphone cozies and noxious-smelling street food on the other. If Seoul were a brain and it's streets were arteries, this is where the stroke would happen. I know I've come close enough to a stroke just trying to get through to from one side to the other.
Behind Eddie, though, I am shielded. I press myself against him as he moves forward slowly, deliberately, as people catch sight of him, their faces always angled up, freeze for a moment in panic, then plunge to one side or the other. And I drift merrily along in his wake, reveling in the bubble of space he creates for me. It creates in me an animal love for him, and I always feel randy and charged up when we've cut through a crowd like that, or like the crowds outside Doota when we go shopping for clothes (for me — he can only buy clothes in loathesome Itaewon, where he ends up with ridiculous hip-hop gear intended for black American soldiers).
And so we round the corner, and I am safe against great big gentle Eddie — the giant who plays so sweetly with the little kids at the school, who dotes on our puppy, and whose mass instills fear and wonder in the people of Seoul.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Fingers are snapping in my face, forcing me out of a cold and shallow sleep that I have no desire to leave behind, knowing the reality it obscures. I have my thin brown blanket around me and my hat pulled low against the wind that has been whipping through the unclosable windows of the rattling bus. "Tea toilet" croaks the man again, determined to rouse us all. I open my eyes and blink up at a gaunt face speckled in white stubble, the words "Tea toilet!" once again creaking forth from under a thick mustache, brown but with gray streaks.
I get up and stagger out with everyone else. The tea stall is a mud building, with silver pots on the wooden benches out front. Tea begins to circulate in tiny blue-tinged cups of ribbed glass, without handles.
Now I'm up, I'm glad of it, because I do need a toilet. "Where's the toilet?" I ask, to no one in particular, hoping someone will guide me. "Toilet?" Sleepy arms gesture towards the dark doorway of the mud house. I pass through and see nothing, or I remember now nothing of what I saw then. Soon I come outside again, into an dirt-floored enclosure surrounded by mud walls. I look around, shrug to myself and head for a corner, unzipping and letting go a stream of piss.
"No! No! No!" A jumble of teenage limbs waving around a cry of dismay. "Not here! This cooking place!"
I cut off the stream, zip up and head for the gap in the rear wall. Behind it I find an identical enclosure to the first, where I head for a corner, shrug again and finish what I'd started.
Back in front, the tea is too hot to drink at first. It steams in its hot glass, its frothy milkiness a dangerous enticement to burned lips and tongue. Now and again I take tentative sips, still too soon, partly out of fear that the bus will leave before I've finished. But there is time here, time for the dust and diesel to settle deep in the nostrils, time for the tea to cool and the thin desert air to warm.
It rushes up the street from the downhill side, this wind, flowing out of a clear blue sky. It's not the fog coming in, but something stranger and stronger. It holds me up as I lean into it, and it blows steadily, not in gusts. It is the strongest wind I have ever felt.
Too soon a car comes to take me home. Later that night, my father tells me that he was one of the last to cross the Golden Gate Bridge before it was closed. He says the cables were vibrating like piano strings. "Did they make a sound?" I ask, but he doesn't know: he kept his windows rolled up. In his rear-view mirror, he saw the deck begin to tilt and drift in the stiffening wind.
Later, at Passover, I am thinking about how similar our weather is with Israel's. I wonder if they've had winds like this one, and whether it was such a wind that rained a plague of locusts upon the Egyptians.