Sunday, March 21, 2010

In a spin

My head’s been in a spin the last couple weeks as the job search back home heats up. Hazel and I fly back to Boston for an interview in mid-April (Hazel gets to hang with Grammy) and so in a real way, more real than before, there’s that tension between here and there. There becomes next week, pretty soon. The Darija lessons got dropped a bit ago, as our months here wane—it’s an odd feeling to be on the other side, bumping along toward the trip home in June. My thoughts jangle with where we are, where we’re going, how we get there. I’ve talked a couple times about this brief return-visit with my friend Céline—she said, eyes full, shaking her head, it’s an amazing thing to go back to your own country. “You’ll see,” she said. She would know.

Meanwhile, the vernal equinox has come and gone and spring has settled into what feels a lot like an enthusiastic anticipation of summer. The mountains have disappeared behind a haze of heat and pollution—they’ve been gone now for a week. I miss the white shiver of them glimpsed down a street. When there, they’re reassuringly present. It feels a little like desertion now. I like the idea of them being accessibly visible—that if we did have roof access or a window high enough that gave in the right direction, or if I look down that particular side-street that our alley Ts into, I could take brief refuge in something dependably gargantuan, physical, reaching extraordinarily high but rooted to the same ground I walk on.

Ever since moving into this ground-floor apartment on the northeast corner of our building, at bedtime we get a full-on blast of music from the courtyard garden of the Italian restaurant next door. Wham! and Madonna’s early tunes, occasionally Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge over Troubled Water,” and every now and again the deep tones of the incomparable Barry White. It’s an odd mash: the soundtrack from Hudson Junior High School's Spring Dance, circa 1987 (minus Barry White, unfortunately)—and the trim white plaster walls of our bedroom, its one window shuttered in the manner of the French, the little pair of matching wooden bedside tables fitted with curling iron-work, the two ornate lantern-style wall sconces, Hazel deeply gone in her almost-three-year-old sleep down the hall. Sometimes the juxtaposition is just funny, sometimes I just want to sleep. And today I found myself wondering how to interpret your country’s own sounds as received and re-mixed in foreign hands. It redefines how things can mean.

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