Saturday, July 02, 2011

Recollections of Summer Nights

It's been so hot here in Palm Springs that we've been spending most of the daytime indoors, as "cave dwellers." After the sun goes down, I go out to the balcony, which overlooks the pool, and watch the growing night. It reminds me of the year I lived in Kyoto, where in August the days were so hot and muggy that you could barely move during the day. Classes were over, but we international students were too poor to travel, so we stayed in town and did what we could to stay comfortable. Days were spent indoors sleeping, snacking, and reading. But when the sun went down, the few of us left in the dorm would walk to the little grocery store down the street, where the owner sat at the low doorway on her calves and said "O-kini" (a regional "Thank you") as she handed us our change, to buy dried snacks and a large bottle of Sapporo. Then we climbed up to the fire escape landing on the second floor of the dorm and settled in for the next several hours, as the nighttime cooled the air. The world felt so still. As I sat and hand-sewed a dress, the married student from Sacramento who remained so in love with his wife back home (I wish I could remember his name) read Thomas Hardy to us by the dim light of the hallway inside. Eventually someone began to sing, and then everyone would join in. Then sometime in the early morning we'd pick up and go to our rooms. I hadn't thought about those nights in Kyoto for a long time, until I sat out in the cool of the evening on my balcony here in the desert.

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