Follow the adventure from the beginning

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Mexico City

My favorite place to be when it thunderstorms in Mexico City is at an outdoor café on Rio Lerma. The first loud crack triggers a surround sound of car alarms. And then the rain chimes in. It’s almost louder than the thunder as it pricks and pounces on the awning overhead. A thin sheet of water quickly covers the street, and goose bumps prickle across my arms and legs.

A waiter comes running.

“Todo bien, señorita?” Everything okay? I tell him that I’m fine and that I prefer to stay outside. He’s carrying a five-foot-long crank, and he uses it to lower a sidewall awning to keep the rain from blowing sideways onto my books and my computer.

Across the street, ten people are huddled in a tiny doorway. Dozens more have slipped into the covered sidewalk entrance of a convenience store. Everything slows – even traffic is at a near standstill – people just watching.

As the rainwater slides under my shoes, a bolt of lighting says tag! you’re it! with a concrete apartment building nearby. The thunder continues to grumble, and I feel a deep peace. Like someone is hugging me with soft cushions and pillows. The storm washes the day away, brings the temperature down, and traps the smog in its droplets. I am protected under this tent, and enjoy sitting still. Shh… listen.


            “I’m bored,” I remember telling my mother. It was always just nasal enough to be a whine, and she used to try and help me find ways to channel my energy into productive activities.

            “Have you tried drawing a picture?” she’d say. “How about playing 4-square?” “You can help me in the kitchen?” “Why don’t you find your sister and build a fort?”

            My mother used to tell me to enjoy being a kid, because soon enough the days would be too full. I didn’t like being told to enjoy boredom, and I never really understood what she meant.

            The days I’m talking about sometimes came toward the end of summer vacation, or on a Sunday evening. Days when, even as a child, you just somehow realized, through boredom or a momentary lack of imagination for play, that you were alone. Please don’t misunderstand. I grew up in the most perfectly loving, supportive family. They taught me to serve, to grow, to win and lose gracefully, and to enjoy the best cold weather picnic on earth (a styrofoam cup of hot soup in below freezing temps beats cold cuts on a warm summer afternoon any day).

            What I mean is that no one person could constantly entertain me or occupy my time and thoughts when I was little. Not even my parents. I didn’t know to call this fact loneliness at the time, but I think that’s what it was. A slow simmer inside, like neighbor Lindsay has dance class today, sister is sleeping, Mom’s cooking dinner, and Dad’s mowing the lawn.

            I remember sitting under a pine tree that grew just a few feet away from the outside brick wall of 110 Mitchell Drive in Pittsburgh. The trunk was surrounded by rhododendrons, but the bushes left just enough space around the base of the tree to create a perfect little spot for me between the bark and brick. I must have been playing hide-and-go-seek and was sure that no one was ever going to find me. Maybe because the seekers weren’t even playing anymore? I stuck one foot out from the bed of pine needles, and crack!

            Instant downpour. I don’t remember the bluish grey skies that predicted the storm, but I do remember the hard, eardrum trembling thunder. I probably should have been scared, but when the rain continued to fall, and I didn’t get wet surrounded by those waxy rhododendron leaves and long feathery pine needles, I felt that strange cushioned embrace for the first time.  Shh… listen.


            The problem is that, according to my calculations, the “I’m bored” stage never really goes away. We flit from job to job, country to country, friendship to relationship. But suddenly there’s a small hole, or a short lapse between the “finished that” and the “let’s move on to what’s next.”

            My days in Mexico City are filled with these lapses. It’s the freelancer’s curse, the entrepreneur’s destiny, and the retiree’s function to feel these brief moments of “now what?” To recognize that even in one of the largest cities in the world, surrounded by friends and people, and full of happy blessings, I’m mostly just alone. Me and my pick-up-sticks against a lifetime of Sunday evenings and waning summer vacations.

            Good Lord, this is getting depressing. I need to take a walk. I need to do something. I wish I could go hang out with my mom or my sister, or snuggle up next to my boyfriend. I wish I could talk all day with Bonnie. Something or anything to make playtime more productive, like kicking myself into gear with the radio report I’m here to produce.

            I look out the window of my apartment bedroom before heading nine flights down to the lobby. It’s definitely going to rain. I can actually see it coming from the other side of the city. A barely audible, slow thunder drumbeat announces the approaching storm.

            As I walk out of the lobby, Mr. Concierge says, “Señorita! It’s going to rain, a storm is coming!”

            “I know,” I say. A big smile builds inside of me.

            “And you’re going to walk to the café anyway? Like this? Without an umbrella?”

I hardly even turn around. “Absolutely,” I say. Before moving forward, sometimes it helps to just be still and reflect a little. Slow down now. Shh… and listen.



  1. 在莫非定律中有項笨蛋定律:「一個組織中的笨蛋,恆大於等於三分之二。」......................................................................

  2. 當一個人內心能容納兩樣相互衝突的東西,這個人便開始變得有價值了。............................................................

  3. 愛,拆開來是心和受兩個字。用心去接受對方的一切,用心去愛對方的所有。......................................................................