Sunday, May 19, 2013

Under the Banana Tree

It’s raining in New York today—a steady, chilly flurry of fine raindrops that glues piles of sodden leaves to the sidewalks and collects in sloshing gutter-pools. It’s an in-between rain, heavy enough to discourage foot traffic but not so heavy that Sunday errands are completely abandoned.

Sunny days remind me of California—of blue skies and ocean swells and a smog-line on the horizon. Rainy days remind me of the Philippines.

Pagudpud rainstorm
Three and a half years ago I had my first rainy season—my first experience of rain without end, of cataracts drumming down endlessly on aluminum roofs, of trisikad wheels cutting furrows through riverine streets. I shivered through cold bucket baths and spent evenings on the porch of my host family’s home, watching the water pinball down the branches of the neighbor’s rambutan tree. I played Go Fish with Kate and Meryl and Nina while the little ones, Pan-Pan and Pau-Pau and Ann-Ann, tottered around on mud-splattered feet. There was also a game called Popcorn, a slightly more sophisticated version of Duck Duck Goose, and since I was clumsy and slow I was usually the goose.

Later, when I had my own house, I’d awake to the blissful sounds of rain and throw my doors and windows open. I lived on the back alley of my subdivision, and behind my house stretched acres of empty fields—lush, green, raw fields. I had a banana tree whose golden fruit mysteriously vanished while I was at work—its enormous elephant-ear leaves drooped seductively over my fence, attracting scavengers. During the rains I sat in my doorway and watched rivulets streaming from those leaves. Stood under them, dry, feeling the coolness of the bagyo air.

I miss it. I miss it.