I'm sick. Coughing, wheezing, sneezing, and dizzy with discomfort. I seek respite in the steam of a hot shower.
I've been missing Istanbul intensely. I miss my old roommate: a man who barely speaks but somehow just radiates. I miss my neighbor and best friend there: her company, her energy, her stories.
Almost as much as I miss these people, I miss the solitude. For three months at a time, two winters in a row, I enjoyed privacy of spirit. All the way across the world from most of my social habitat, I would hole up, sometimes for days. I would barely speak to anyone, happy to be mostly undisturbed in the dark, cavernous and warm room. When I occasionally did part the thick, green, velvet curtains, the light from the alley was sad and cold -- as it always seemed to be reflecting of the clean marble in Istanbul (only the sunlight over the Bosporus in the late afternoon was golden). Back then, I was able to be alone with the voices in my head, who muttered and hummed, made up stories to entertain us, and mused about things of little consequence.
These days, they won't stop screaming. It's too much, toomuch, toomuch... and yet.
I slip down in the tiny square shower to sit on the tiny square tiles. I close my eyes and let the warm water plunk on my face and knees. It sounds like falling rain. I curl myself into a ball and sink down to my side on the smooth floor. My long hair floats and waves a little. I let the sound and the warmth of the water take over and fall asleep.
I dream in memories. I dream that I am back in the rainforest of Chiapas, Mexico, where the rain was just as warm. I remember swinging in the impossibly thick vines, in competition with howler monkeys who, despite having the terrifying cry of a fierce jungle cat, are adorable, mischievous little things. I remember decorating the dreadlocks I used to have with hibiscus flowers. I remember the flavor of papaya water soothing my stomach. And I remember my lover at the time hugging a leaf that was bigger than he was. What different times! Nothing proves this to me more than thinking of him, the kind of person he was, and who I was in his reflection.
The rain slowly turns cold and I'm in Madrid. I'm delirious from jet lag and having slept all day, but now it's the middle of the night and I'm being dragged down the street by the hand of a different man entirely -- and what a different life we led together. We run through the chilly rain and seek refuge in a sherry bar. The amber liquid comes straight from the cask; we drink it from tiny flutes and it warms our shivering bones. I deliriously munch on oily, skinned almonds and he makes up little songs to amuse me and crack a smile on my paled visage.
Now the water is cold enough to drag me back into awareness. I laugh at myself a bit bitterly for being so sentimental, for missing so much, for being an avid adventurer who simultaneously: constantly craves, and yet is astounded by, change. It's the little things, the simple facts, the obvious conclusions that often seem so impossible to me.
I sit up, let the blood rush back to my head, and turn off the tap.