My friend, Kady, came over to stay with me a few weeks ago. She’s still relatively new to site but we get along just great. As we were turning in I realized there were perhaps a few things I should cover, should she desire to roam my house alone. I explained that, in the kitchen, the left half is for cooking, cleaning, and the like, while the right half is the domain of the rat. I explained that she may need to cross into Splinter’s side for spices or rice, but that she did so at her own risk. I proceeded to advise against washing dishes standing too closely to the sink, as there is a mouse and many cockroaches who live beneath the broken cupboards and that they occasionally like to explore. I then mentioned that, should she need to use the little girl’s room in the middle of the night, she should be aware that there is a creature of unknown origins living above the well on the way to the mandi (bathroom area). I placated her, saying it shouldn’t bother her so long as she let it know she was coming. It might rattle the pots and pans a bit but, as I have yet to see and identify this creature, I was reasonably sure it wouldn’t lash out. Once in the mandi, I warned, be sure to watch out for lizards and cockroaches, as they tend to make that their evening play place. I explained she should pull water from the middle of the latrine with the bucket instead of the sides, since it’s mosquito larvae season and I could not guarantee the water would be free of the little buggers. I suggested she not look up while in there, as the spiders tend to move their webs further down in the night. I concluded with a brief suggestion that she flush some water down the toilet before using it, as centipedes, millipedes, and other wormy things had been known to crawl up the piping.
I went through this rather extensive list without a blink or a sideways glance.
Today I went swimming at the local hotel pool. I got back and, since I have a thing about being covered in gross pool water, I went right to the mandi to bathe. It is culturally inappropriate to wear bathing suits for women, so I swim in my leggings and a shirt. While in the mandi I decided it would be most efficient to wash my sports bra and leggings, since those are items I frequently wear here. The obvious conclusion, then, was to grab a bucket and do the hand washing while I let my conditioner do its thing. The next thing I know I’m crouched in the mandi completely nude, hand washing my clothes in a bucket. Because this seemed easiest.
Earlier in the week my computer suffered various misfortunes which have led to it being currently out of commission. (No. I did not drop it.) I’m hoping it’s as simple a fix as buying a new charger next week, but it could be as complicated as ordering the requisite parts and opening my poor girl up. I was forlorn for an evening when I realized my safe haven of movies and Friends was (hopefully temporarily) a thing of the past. After a night of fitful sleep, however, I decided I was done worrying about it. I loaded my iPad with podcasts, started a new book, and went for a bike ride. Because there was nothing more I could do about my poor computer at the moment.
This is my life.Year two promises to be… interesting. In those three anecdotes alone I feel I have efficiently elucidated the odd situations which, to me, now seem common place. It is only through a concerted effort that I pull myself away from the situation enough to fully examine it through western eyes and take a note to giggle about it at a later date. Not giggle to demean, or mock the experience, but instead to hold on to it tightly with both hands. I endure a 75 mile commute through circuitous mountain roads for 6 hours to get to the city. During Idul Fitri that time doubles to a whopping 12 hour commute. I have covered that much ground in an hour before. How did I handle that particular 12 hour commute? I listened to music, some podcasts, a book on tape, and played puzzles with Alan.
This country, this place, these experiences have pushed the boundaries of everything I knew. They have tested patience I would have sworn I did not possess. I have screamed and cried and railed against the many pieces of this place that make me crazy, but as I stand on the precipice of year two all I can do is take a moment, look around, drink it in, and chuckle.
Damn, this is going to make one hell of a story someday.