Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Walk in the Rain

Tonight, I had dinner with a friend of mine, and then I'd planned to have a different friend come over and hang out at my apartment. He ended up calling me at about 8:30 to cancel, though. So I went for a walk.

The night was a little chilly and rainy. I picked up some moon cakes in a bakery that I passed--small cakes with filling, made because the Moon Festival is coming up.

I won't get into everything I thought about on the walk. So many thoughts are doggedly pursued and then dropped on a walk like that, it would be difficult to write it all here. I will say that sometimes long walks like that can go bad with so much time to think, but this was not one of those nights.

I've always been someone who has thought about background music--what music I would like to have as my soundtrack, or just what would be perfect. "Trailways" by Red House Painters for walking under trees with sunlight streaming through, for instance. There is also a certain way that the sun will strike a lake as you drive by that sounds like "Tahquamenon Falls" by Sufjan Stevens. Tonight the call to prayer started to bellow from a mosque I was walking by and echo from building to building. And that is the soundtrack to this place, to the lives that weave through these streets and alleys.

I walked to another part of the city, the large square that I've mentioned before on here. It's about the size of three or four football fields, but because of the weather it was completely desolate. There's something about a place where there should be people when it's empty--like something is wrong, like it's being used for something that was never intended. I walked to the very middle, where there's a huge pole with lights in a ring around the top. Looking up, the rain was falling regularly, but larger drops in two concentric rings because of the lights. The drops would be illumined as they passed the lights, then fade like sparks. It was really indescribable: the whole of it, me standing, looking up, the strangeness and simple beauty of what I was watching, how unusual of a place it was to find it, alone in a huge city square.

I was recently told that the phrase, "Zhen qi guai," means "How strange," but that that isn't the whole of it. There's also beauty implied.

It's hard to describe exactly, but as I walked home I had a whole different set of things to think about.

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