Monday, August 4, 2008


It's midnight and rainy in Minneapolis.

After a week of promises, and a parched disappointment made bearable only by the cooler-than-predicted temps, it finally rains. A good soaker. "Tornado watch until 6am" warns MyWeather, though the lightning is distant in the south and the winds negligable at the moment. I opened my window here in the sewing room, just so I could listen to the dripping water as it falls. It sounds like bamboo chimes and birds chirping. It's one of the perfect sounds, ranked only by my son breathing calmly as he sleeps.

As usual, at this time of night, I think of all my friends who live nearby and wonder if they are sleeping. It's an open proposition, since most of them are night people by habit if no longer by lifestyle -- and just as I typed that line I had a brief recollection of a dream -- a flashback to a dream. Last night I think I dreamt that JJ had returned from San Diego, finished with grad school and a real architect at last. I miss her.

As for the nearer-to-hand; I can imagine their beds or their sitting rooms, their wet yards in the dark and maybe a bright window still glowing into the street -- I wish some of them lived closer, imagine how nice it would be to just walk across the alley in the night for a quick chat, leaning against a garage or propping open a gate. Instead we each return to our islands at night.

A few live on mountains of volcanic height, a few in more modest hilltops, one or two underground. Islands in a small sea of neighborly influence -- neighbors being those people who always stay the same distance from you, each house separated by a moat of sanctity, each apartment a denial of the unit next door. We have new neighbors here on Taylor; the rental unit to our south was vacated last week by the two Matts and a guy we referred to as Skeeziks, a pre-med student whose name I forget. Now it's Juan and his fiancee, not long out of Long Beach, hanging out in Northeast for a few years while they plot their careers. They have a little dog who makes my son nervous, and chews on rocks. No fence between our yards, and not much yard for them at all, so the husband and I are welcoming but watchful -- we aren't keen on dogpiles. But the newbies seem nice, and they moved here for the quiet they say. We agree that quiet is good.

Night in the night -- rain and wet. Warm and dark. Intimate in the way that summer nights can be, a warmth and humidity that brings out our sense of the nearest body to hand -- everyone damp and somewhat easier to find by scent alone, all of us connected by the thickening of the air, molecules bridging the distance between one body and the next. It's reassuring, in a way. Air conditioning on the other hand will freeze-dry a person if not mindful, and makes the soft air outside seem smothering by contrast. I remember the days of long talks in the dark -- late nights outdoors where the only privacy could be found.

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