Kevin Lentz, 131 YinD
I was laying under my mosquito net trying not to sweat in the 91-degree heat when I heard raindrops tapping heavily on the metal roof. I could hardly believe it because it hasn’t stormed once in the 4 months I’ve lived in Thailand. Despite my disbelief, the storm rolled in and lightning lit the night sky, illuminating the jagged outlines of the mountain range. Maybe it is just a result of the extraordinary set of circumstances I find myself in, but before this, if you had told me that something as simple as a storm could mean so much as to bring me to tears of joy, I would have told you that you’re crazy. Now I realize that there is truth in the cliché that it is often the small things that mean the most.
I walked straight into the rain and stood there until I was drenched, savoring the long-forgotten or never appreciated memories that came with every drop. I closed my eyes, and I am now sitting on the porch in Georgia watching a summer storm and drinking sweet tea out of an old cracked plastic cup that I am sure we’ve had my entire life. My dad is talking about the miracle of life and its dependence on rain. I can see the excitement and happiness etched on his face whenever a good storm comes by, and I am hoping that I can be as thankful for everyday miracles as he is when I am older. I can almost smell the aroma of homemade enchiladas wafting out through the cracked porch windows.
Now I’m fishing on Lake Lanier with my best friends. We’re trying to race back to the dock before the storm comes in, but the motor stopped working on Donnie’s fishing boat (as usual), so we’re trolling back at a hopelessly slow pace. Ted is spraying starter fluid into the carburetor, but I can already feel the rain starting and have no faith in Ted’s mechanical expertise. Then, to my astonishment, I hear the motor crank and my faith in Ted is renewed as it always is.
The rain is cold, and suddenly I am standing outside at the grotto of my university. It is my first winter in the frozen tundra that is South Bend, Indiana and the cold wind bites at my exposed face. I’m looking up at the visage of Mother Mary wondering how so many things I held close in my life fell apart so quickly. I’m feeling the loss of direction and purposelessness that comes when someone’s world no longer makes sense, and I’m wondering why I tried so hard to come to this place. I kneel to pray and am glad for the fact that tears don’t freeze easily.
I start to shiver and now I’m walking through the gardens at Schönbrunn. It is 4 months into my 10-month stay in Vienna, Austria and nothing has color anymore. The cold January wind whips through the bare branches of the trees as I’m looking up at the grey permacloud over Vienna. I walk up the hill to the Gloriette overlooking the city and am trying to figure out how I got here and what kind of mark I want to make with my life. I feel the pressure of life and the duty it gives to those who are as fortunate as I am to do everything I can to give back. I feel minute and powerless in the face of such responsibility.
I hear someone laughing, and I turn to see my host sister standing in the door laughing at the spectacle of some strange foreigner standing in a storm with his eyes closed. Walking to the house, she asks me what I was doing, and I explain in my broken Thai how I’ve missed storms. She listens to me stumble through describing storms in my State and why they mean a lot to me before replying that it sounds a lot like storms here. I smile and am overcome with a sense of happiness so strong that I am forced to fight back tears.
Now back lying under my mosquito net, I think I know why such a simple reply brought me to the verge of tears. There will be plenty of opportunities to make memories here that I will remember in future storms. They will not be the same, and they are sure to be a mix of good and bad just like the others, but not all is lost just because I am in a strange country I do not understand. Life continues, and if I am present enough to appreciate the small things all will be well. I laugh writing this because of the banal clichés it echoes, but at the end of today, I can’t think of anything more true.
This is Kevin’s first post for Sticky Rice. Be sure to check back in the future for his next ones.