I waited during most of November. My eyes scanned carefully. The grey roof opposite looked the same, as always. It was my morning routine check. If it happened at some point during the night, there should have been some signs, right?
Maybe more luck in December, she said.
She didn’t notice the frown. Surely she knew that I haven’t got much time. It’s not her fault though. Nothing in her power could bulge anything in the sky. So I just focused on the things a mere human capable of. Wishing and hoping. Maybe today’s the day. It sure feels like it.
It was supposed to be special because it never happened to me, at least from where I came. I bought everything I think I should need. I figured protection and safety are prime issues. I started with browsing each crook of the top floor of a shop recommended by her. I’m comforted by her knowledge. There was a long aisle suggesting what kind of things consumers need for our present and future. With my current state, I knew it in my heart that failure to notice this would result in my slow death or tragic mummification.
It doesn’t take long to decide. I bought a pair. I was actually very proud of my investment. I wore it night and day. I might even tell her that it’s a life-changing garment. You should try it, I said. She just laughed about it. Amateurs, she might say. She survived 7 winters here. Thermal clothing is the last thing on her mind especially tight, grey ones.
Next, I succumbed to socks. To be honest, I never really saw the importance of having and wearing socks until I ventured out this far north. It does feel a bit weird walking on our baked, dusty Equatorial ground with socks for leisure. The feet beg for air circulation, not insulation. The sun smirked at fleece jacket, fur lined gloves and thigh high leather boots. Those won’t do. The humidity favors cotton, colorful rubber slippers and the exposing of bare skin. Life is a good trail of sweat trickling down the creek of your bottom.
And of course, free and perfect tan.
Lastly, I should have bought gloves. I wanted to but I already had a pair and surprisingly it was a gift in summer. She told me she would buy me a pair but he beats her to it. It was our second outing. I remember distinctly that I complained about not being able to adapt to the weather. His eyes stretching far ahead and I pretended not to notice. Men, I complained to myself. Poor little creatures with such a short span of attention.
I was wrong. Some men remember better.
Completing my ensemble, I went out every day fully garbed just in case. The cold breeze bit the tip of my nose and fingers. It takes a while for my blood to dart from my heart to my toes. I swam in endless Americanos and expressos. I dived from the tallest book towers to undetermined depth of book trenches. I drowned in my Now. I began to suspect that with one day’s notice, my wish will not be coming true.
It was the stupidest thing. In the midst of wretchedness, I sat in my room hoping for a miracle. I wanted a sign. Something. Anything. The absolute power should care, right? He should listen. I need Him. This is what I ask this year, the year of Nothing-Ever-Good-Could-Happen-To-Me. It was midnight. I was on my bed in an empty room with a big World map peeling from the wall, restless. It was unbearable. Indeed Life was. Sweat forming on the top of my lips. I hate this place, I said. We were scorching from the heat of dry season. Having two seasons didn’t help. It’s either Dry or Monsoon. Nothing fancy, nothing to look forward to.
Unless I could fly. Maybe I could escape somewhere. Somewhere lacked sun. Somewhere cold. Somewhere with snow. And with that thought I managed my first sincere smile.
I have envisioned it so many times. Snow melting in my hand. Snowman army. Snow drizzling down like sugar on strawberries. A blanket of white fur. Me sliding on slippery slope and falling on my face. Snowball empires.
The first part of the thought materialized into action. I flew. But how in the world I could convince the sky to impart some frozen icy water?
And it’s one day left. What else to do?
Grumpy, I went out all day to say goodbye. This is quite upsetting. I traced the plank of an important dead person laying foundation of the local library. I went up to the third floor and touch the endless rows of books. I contemplate a moment of silence at the basement of a bookshop. Another half an hour at a second hand bookstore. I sat gloomily for the last time at a coffee shop draining a cup of liquid Black Hole.
In another universe, I shall find all my conflicting dreams, flickered stars, wrecked ambitions and empty promises stepped out of an old, scribbled, unrecognizable, blackened notebook as bright, colorful rose petals blooming hungrily in boundless garden. One day all this will make sense to me. Someday.
That grim, grey, cold day I wept. The day of Infinite Goodbyes and right on cue, the cloud announced rain. The streets were teaming with people scattering and searching for cover. I went inside at once. The unpleasant episode of the day is best watched from a safe place. There’s something about the sound that made me look for a big window. The sky rarely lies but what was that sound? Thumping and bouncing like racing pebbles down a creek.
It was not rain.
Those little round white things drummed the cobblestones and unfortunate heads in such a blind force that it’s painful to see. It thudded, bounced and rolled. My eyes widened. I saw another thing coming.
Hailstones, or what I read; Hope.
It’s a sign. I knew it. This is it.
20 minutes. The world was covered with grey specks. I touched some remains on a bench just to make sure that it wasn’t a dream. It really happened! A part of me wants to jump and click my heels while another bargaining to kiss strangers. I was torn thinking for appropriate response for this awesome view when a tiny white dust settled on my arm. Another landed on my shoes and a thousand more minuscule parachutes landed from heaven. My faint smile widened. The salty taste on my tongue disappeared. Really, this year wasn’t so bad after all.
I looked up at the bright clear sky and said what’s due.
The irony of goodbye. The mixed feelings. It’s always a blurred line. Nothing is definite. I have the range of polar opposites. Sad and happy, black and white.
I choose everything in between. I choose grey.