out the back

May 10, 2011

accompanying audio: morning out the back

The wisdom of the smugly aged holds that there is good and bad in everything, that nothing is truly one or the other. Everything then must exist in grades. A totalitarian government isn’t a good thing, but SNG appears to behave itself. My position isn’t perfect, but it is, in the literal sense, awesome.
Give, take, give, take.

One of the biggest changes this year has been the Matriarch’s gifting to us of our own house to shape in our own image. This sort of basic independence made the year before it even started, and we, to a man, came with slabs of blu-tak and started imprinting on the place. It’s a long house, thin, one storey. sitting room out front, rooms in the middle, kitchen and dining area at back, all proceeding in single file. Inexplicably high ceilings.
The front is just a tiled rampart down to the road for drinking and subsequently sleeping on. When the rain is heavy, penitent cockroaches run up it, abandoning the gutters to ask us for shelter. Filthy immigrants.
Our road is mostly bungalows, with tropic-stained terracotta rooves and something deeply unfamiliar about their layout. We throw the flimsy double doors open so the house can breathe.

I like the house; it is my first place. But I love the back. There is a frame of inoffensive fencing. Rogue plants in the cracks. Black mould water tracings. A skyline of bonsais. A constant quagmire of post-adolescence ang mo washing. The workings of all the different households and their unintelligible conversations are at least audible. The recesses of gardens are growing trees which confuse themselves and then spill everywhere. Mynahs and sparrows invade our kitchen from hidden staging posts and when they land, the harsh scratching of their claws reminds me of their psychotic eyes and the seriousness of their biznez.

Waking this morning found me hugging the tiled floor trying to dump any body heat I could; the room was too hot to sleep in, despite an open atrial window. A morning thunderstorm began to pour cold air underneath the door, drawing me out and down the hall: our longhouse sometimes forms a wind tunnel, which pushes the staleness out one end or the other. The back was cold, as the depression rolled over us on stilts of rain. Suddenly, the tunnel switched, venting into the back yard and I stood then in the house’s exhalation: hot heavy air, last night’s drinking. Our breath must have gone with it too, atmospheric laundry. I stood out here, careful not to wake the others.

I will never stay in SNG, but I’d like to keep this.


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