Coming home

You wake early. It’s getting light, but the light is like a twilight and there is no telling what the time is without digital help. The jet lag hasn’t worn off, despite the Melatonin spray, and the night’s been blowing through you. The wind has howled through cracks in the window frame and the driving rain has pelted your sleep. You dreamed of a fire in a mansion, of rescuing keepsakes and finding a safe place to sleep, and then trying to repair all those rooms. Perhaps your subconscious converted the storm to a fire for the dream.

It’s only four days since you were sitting by a pool after breakfast among the palm fronds and red hot pokers, listening to the geckos and unable to imagine cold. That euphoria hasn’t quite worn off yet. That feeling of peace which holds down the rising stresses still holds you.

New York’s latest storm has made its way across the Atlantic and arrived to rip the guttering from the back of the house. A bucket stands in the kitchen to catch drips from the RSJ, which is undoubtedly eroding quietly in its groove, and the dehumidifier’s gentle hum signals the start of another week of the front door saga. Oak is not good for exterior doors apparently – it absorbs water and swells – did that come into any conversations back in the heady days of 2006, when every joinery in the south of Ireland was on overtime? No I don’t think so.
And now we will have teak, painted teak. Only two weeks ago, you watched as wiry youths dressed in swimming trunks or loincloths punted bamboo rafts down a tributary to the Mekong, each raft laden with slabs of Teak from the rain forest of Ratanakiri. You bemoaned the pillaging of Cambodia’s last hardwood, and the exploitation of a crushed nation by its dominant neighbours, and here you are buying teak for your front door…

The light. It was the quality of that light in the intense shimmering heat and humidity which gave you the energy. When you drink six litres of water and it goes straight through your skin to soak your clothes, and the mosquitoes are whining, its impossible to think of winter. But when the wind blows and the rain falls and your clothes are only soaked from without, the rain and wind and cold is insidious. Ten weeks and not one dry day to remember. But that light and those days, and that moment-by-moment existence where unanswered questions hang in the still air. It temporarily changed things for you.