We got back to Pai a few days ago, in the evening, and when we arrived, the house smelled a bit moldy. It’s been rainy season here while we’ve been away gallivanting in the sun in North America, following the good weather like birds. Here it’s still raining big heavy rains with lightning and thunder, which is odd for this time of year, but nice, since it’s also quite hot and the rain cools things down. The clouds form overhead, gigantic puffy things, and when the sun sets, they light up like flames. It’s breathtaking.
But back to arrival. I have noticed that there are a few days that are jarring after visiting home and re-entering Asia. It’s like a little brain shake, like vertigo. Nothing looks quite right and that feels a little scary when you are meant to be returning home. I don’t think anyone looks forward to the dizziness of it. But the thing that anchored me that evening, while we pieced our kitchen back together (when I say “we” I mean Chinua) and bathed the baby and oversaw showers and settled everyone in for bed after our overseas flight, the thing that was my bag of smelling salts when I got too dizzy, was that scent of mold. It smelled like home, because it reminded me of India. It calmed me.
I thought back to when I first arrived in India in the monsoon and everything everywhere smelled like mold, stinky wet clothes, or mothballs. I used to get up in the morning to have chai and I would open the bottle of cardamom and shove my whole face in it, breathing in the fragrance of something herbal and strong and sweet, something that smelled nothing like mold.
And now mold is simply one more smell that brings a wave of nostalgia to me, one more thing that points me to home. My life is strange.
I’ll still try to get rid of it, don’t worry.
I went for a run this morning for the first time since we’ve been here. I hadn’t gone before because I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year, trying to get 50,000 words of a middle grade fantasy rough draft done in the month of November. That means I write for a happy hour in the morning, something I’m finding easy because I’ve plotted this book out, and because over the two and a half years that I've lived here, I’ve carved out a pretty solid habit of writing in the mornings. So despite the fact that I was finding it almost impossible to write while we traveled, I popped out of bed straight away on our first morning here and thought, Get me my laptop, Wookie, I’m sitting down to write.
But I’ve also committed to the running thing. To that thing called exercise. I have NO habit of running in Thailand, so I had to force myself out of the house at around 5:30 in the morning, when it was still dark and cool, and push my sorry limbs down the road. It’s different from running in California. The roads are a little less smooth, so I have to watch my feet more. And this morning I was adopted by a street dog at the end of my block, only about a minute after I left the house. He was all, It’s great that you’re here too! Stoked that you wanted to run with me this morning! Nothing like an early morning run, eh? He was super happy that I had chosen him as my companion. Except that I hadn’t. But I didn’t mind too much, even though his presence meant that other dogs kept running out to guard their territory as we went along.
When I turned into my block at the end of my run, he said See ya next time! and trotted off.
I’m happy to be home.