23 July 2009

Another Homecoming?

A gray, humid day has turned into a cool, rainy evening. That sort of thing doesn't happen in Trinidad, CO, apparently.

I never knew how happy I would be to see a day like this...until today. In Colorado, I really was happy to see those great expanses of sky, and long periods of time with scarcely a cloud in them. I also marvelled at those sudden, gully-washing rains that come and go like mirages or hallucinations. Florida has rainstorms like that most afternoons during the summer, but the mountains around Trinidad seem to make the coming and passing of those torrents seem even more intense, even when they're not accompanied by thunder and lightning.

Now tires are hissing on wet pavement as the breeze ripples curtains across my windows. Yes, this is an urban rain: The water here, even in the worst of storms, transmutes but does not slow down the pace of the rushing tires and pulsing footsteps; it refracts neon and incandescent light into a constellation of reflections one cannot see in the sky.

In other words, this rain, or more precisely, the water that hisses like a crystal serpent, diffuses the harshest sights and sounds of the city. It makes bearable the heat and humidity that precedes it by disappating them into flickering reflections and waves of chilly air that you can just barely feel unless you're moving. And, at this moment, I'm not, except to type these words.

Somehow I think that if the Spanish or French, rather than the Dutch and English, had settled this area, they wouldn't have named any body of water El Rio de Las Animas Perdidas en Purgatoire. That's what the river that cuts through Trinidad was named; today it is known as the Purgatory River. It was so named because of the explorers who were killed there and didn't have the Last Rites of the church administered to them. They thus became lost souls, sentenced to purgatory.

I doubt that anyone in this city, or in any large city in the northern industrialized world, thinks of lost souls and purgatory when he or she hears the rain or sees the river. It seems that in most such cities--I'm thinking now of Paris, London, Amsterdam, Boston and San Francisco, as well as the city I call home--the rain softens the sharp elbows and the angles of steel and glass. In the high mesa of Colorado and New Mexico, it seems that the rain is one of those edges, which, when it's over, makes the starkness of the landscape and the refulgence of the sun even more intense.

I think now of an account George Orwell wrote during the Spanish Civil War. Rather than New York with Trinidad or city with Mesa, Orwell was contrasting Spain with France. If I recall it correctly, he said that with every kilometer into France one travels, the light becomes more diffuse and the colors softer. On the other hand, as one ventures into Spain, the sun grows more intense and the trees and other life take on harsher, starker hues. The Spanish vista, he said, throws so many things into sharp relief; the French tableau softens them into memories.

Perhaps I am a creature of diffusion. As much as I loved the light and rain in Trinidad, I am now in my native sights and sounds. Yes, now I am home--and, now, at home in my body.

Funny, how I had to go to Trinidad to come home to myself, and to come home again. Maybe that's why I've ended every conversation I've had with Mom--and, yes, even Dad!--by thanking them and telling them I love them. I've been doing that for Millie and my other friends, too.

Could it be that I've just learned what a homecoming is? Is it a matter of coming or returning to whom and what you love? And, is that what allows you to love other things and people?

Hmm...If this is my reward for undergoing gender-reassignment surgery, I only wish I could've done it sooner. If only I'd been ready...

At least, as Bruce might say, I'm here now. Yes, I love you, too, Bruce.

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