I was on my way to Helen Coffee this morning; in fact I made it all the way to NTU Hospital station on the Dieciocho, when the heavens opened and a cold, terrible rain fell upon the earth to punish me for not bringing an umbrella and not wearing real shoes. It flashed thunder all over the place, and the wind was so strong, the raindrops themselves had whitecaps. Rain blew horizontally into my ear canal.
It started falling right as I got off the bus, so I stepped under the bus shelter to wait. Although the subway and the neighborhood awnings were a single block away, mere meters… if I had stepped out from under the bus shelter, I might as well have dived into a swimming pool, that’s how drenched I would have been.
So I waited under that bus shelter for twenty minutes, occasionally sweeping the rain out of my ear canal with a finger. Other rain refugees were under there with me, and their mass sheltered part of me from the rain… the bottom part. They simply were not tall enough to protect my shoulder or head.
So for twenty minutes I waited for the rain to cease, or at least lighten, so I could dash that single block to dryness, and get on with my day. To my amazement, the rain kept finding ways to get harder, colder, heavier.
Screw it, I thought, I’m not going to make it to Helen; not going to make it to the subway station, not going to make it to the awnings. I stopped then next cab and ran to get in. It was only six steps to the curb, but by the time I got in the cab, I was drenched. “Benny’s Café,” I called out, and we were off.
When we got there, I paid, and then said 不要下車了! I was trying to say “guh, I don’t want to get out of the car,” but I realized immediately that what I actually said was “do NOT. get out of the car!” I would have been embarrassed but at the time I was too busy running through sheets of water. I was 10 steps from the side of the curb to the awning of Benny’s Cafe, but when I finally got in the front door, I looked slick and wet like a California sea lion.
So I got to Benny’s and ordered a tall iced coffee. When that was gone, it was still raining; harder, even. So there was a second iced coffee and a plate of pasta. The pasta was gross, of course, but it was a beggars/choosers type situation.
Finally, and hour later, the rain had stopped, so I walked my way down Shida Road, to find an optician. I had planned on finding the one that Skritter Jake had recommended, but then I reconsidered and just went to the first one I saw; it would be less hassle to get to later on.
So I walked in, and a man helped me. I showed him my sunglasses, the fake Police glasses I had bought in Shanghai. The screw had fallen out. I was an easy repair.
Can’t do it, says the man. It’s a weird shape, not gonna match the other side… nah, can’t do it.
I move on to my second problem; my frames need the new prescription. I showed them my new prescription, and worked out what it would take to get new lenses. Actually, I learned a lot of words: lens, prescription, seeing distance, reading, frames, glass, plastic, screw, nut… amazing words that I didn’t write down. I’ll write them down tomorrow.
The couple was hilarious. The man replaced the missing screw with a mismatched pin, which he was able to screw down with a nut. He was annoyed by the mismatch, but I was able to say “That’s not important, the important thing is to protect your eyes.” The lady was delighted.
I explained to them that I had bought the sunglasses in Shanghai, that I knew they were fake, and that I had paid 500 RMB for three pair. Why, they despaired, did I pay so much? I’ll tell you why, I said…, because the girls were so pretty. They both laughed and applauded.
They told me to come back tomorrow at around 5pm, my new lenses would be ready. I ended up getting the fanciest lens, everything but the “transitions” coating, because it’s worth it, right? It’s way cheaper, and way faster, than getting them in the US.
I can’t wait to pick them up tomorrow. On payday I’ll go back and get another pair.
The most important thing by far that happened today is that I got an email from Marco, from the old ItalianPod. Don’t forget that.
the part about the pie
I was a little troubled riding the bus tonight. I was thinking about how I was taught not to complain; how I was taught that my personal comfort was less important than a pie, less important than someone’s desire to shop, less important than a fax machine. That it was my job to suffocate in the back of a van, or to let the top of my head slam against the ceiling of the car, because I was too tall for the back seat.
I was also made to feel that my feelings were less important than those of any adult, those of any of my cousins, or those of the woman who did the mortgage. That my opinions counted less, that all my ideas were bad.
These are specific memories, not vague recollections. I have a hard time remembering my Apple ID or my Twitter password, but I do remember when I stepped out of the car at Mt. Shasta with my pant leg covered in pie, terrified at how much trouble I was going to be in.
When I think about all those times, I feel sad for the kid that I was. I don’t think I was a bad kid.
My uncle once asked me why I was so bitter. I couldn’t really answer.
It was a pecan pie, that we had bought at the Nut Tree. There was also apple.
I’m so grateful for the people who have treated me like a valuable person when I was little, and those who still do. I’m aware that I’m kind of weird about it.
I’m going to get back to watching the Disney Channel in Mandarin now. The Incredibles is on. I love this show, and I’m still holding out hope that I’ll discover my superpower one day.