Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Flotation devices

The storm was so bad the plane couldn't land. It tried to - for more than an hour it tried to, while passengers whimpered, gasped, prayed, heaved into their air sickness bags. I was sitting next to a small boy. He looked over at me and put his hand in mine. It felt fragile and cold, like a bird. I noticed my skin, dry and taught over my knuckles.

Everyone tells me I look exactly like my father, but my hands are my mother's hands. Hers are bigger, stronger, but I can see how mine were made using hers as a model. I see her in other places too - in my back and shoulders. I know I'm the spitting image of my father, but I'm my mother's daughter too.

My parents love me. Today, years later, while I pick fruit at the supermarket or slide something into the oven or straighten out my desk at the office I am often struck by this knowledge that comes out of nowhere and envelops me completely.

The very first time I tasted coffee was at my grandfather's house. We went to visit him and the next day I got up very early and he was already up. He was standing alone in the kitchen. He pulled out a chair so I could sit down and set a big mug in front of me. He poured boiling, frothy milk into it, from a battered metal pot. He added one large spoonful of sugar. Then, a touch of coffee, the black liquid barely coloring the white. I still drink it the same way.

There was a boy I liked in school, right at the time when girls liked boys and boys thought girls were gross. He had black hair and green eyes and wore heavy metal t-shirts. In the search for something to talk to him about I introduced myself to what is now referred to as classic rock. My preference for rock outlived my interest in the boy.

When I lived in Beijing I had a dear friend who was a DJ. He used to play whatever song my friend Mimi and I wanted, and we stayed out as late as my father would let me (which was never very late) dancing with abandon in a nearly empty disco in China in 1988.

Right away I loved going to work. The structure of it, its demands on one's character. I love getting up in the morning and walking outside in my pajamas to get the newspaper, the smell of the clean ocean air. I love glancing over the business section over my breakfast of toast and blueberries. I love showering and getting dressed and showing up and getting paid for something I love doing, which mostly involves expressing my opinion. I look at my paycheck and think, "Ha! What a deal".

To my complete surprise, I’m really good at this thing called marriage. I often get asked if I thought my husband was handsome the first time I saw him. What I thought, with a giddy, somewhat sick feeling, was "I love him". I loved him fiercely straight away and I still do, for the same reasons and different reasons, reasons I couldn't have predicted in that meeting room in Austin, Texas. I was 28 years old.

On the plane, with the pilot trying to land in the middle of that storm, I looked down at the San Francisco Bay and worried that the water would be really cold. I wondered if I'd manage to get out of my seat belt. If the cushion could really be used as a flotation device. It's funny how it's always the little things that matter the most.


ISPL said...

What a fabulous post Dushka. Your penmanship (or typepersonship) gets better by the day. More importantly though, I'm thrilled beyond belief that your preference for rock outlived your interest in that boy.

ISPL said...

I gots no idear why I was ISPL in that earlier comment!

Amitto said...

I give up....

Dushka said...

ISPL, stop flirting with me. :)

Anonymous said...

You have his mouth and eyes but what about the nose?

Yola said...

I love this post. Love, YCZ.

Luca said...

I agree. This is a great post, and I am glad your love for rock outlived the one for the boy :)

Dushka said...

Yola, muchas gracias. Me encantan tus visitas.

ISPL, Luca - my love for rock outlived my love for the boy, but ever so often, when I'm about to rock, I salute him. :)

CM, my nose is not like his but the rest of my face is so it's often overlooked. I see you in many other places, though.