Sunday, June 21, 2009


It's been hot and humid for the last 2 or 3 days. I didn't think I'd miss the torrential rains, but at least they cool things off, introduce a new kind of air, trap all the Jeepney smoke and rinse it out of the sky. I put on my only pair of jeans this morning, and a long sleeved shirt, so that when Lizzie and I went downstairs for our Skype date with Dave, Brad, Diane and Melanie, there would be a lot less skin for the mosquitos to sniff out.

That was at 8:30 in the morning. Now it's nearly 5 PM and I feel as if I'm marinating in these clothes, my skin sticking to them in a moist, human way that's deeply uncomfortable and, at the same time, natural.

After our Skype call, I dragged Lizzie with me around the corner to a Protestant church, Church of the Risen Lord, for 10 AM English service. All of my Lutheran childhood came flooding back to me--the somber organ hymns, the Doxology, the reverence for the spirit of church, for the fact of the liturgy, the slightly stiff smiles we gave each other during the passing of the peace, our backs upright, our eyes and lips smiling in the centers of our separate faces. Lizzie slouched down on the hard pew and dug her head into my shoulder. The parishners fanned themselves with their programs, their bamboo fans. A church lizard crawled around the high, arched ceiling. The architrave? Is that what that part of the church is called? A few sparrows flitted in and out of the church's stark bones up there. "The animals are really into church," Lizzie muttered.

After the service, Lizzie and I slipped out into the hot day and walked over to the Chocolate Kiss for what's becoming a habitual Sunday lunch treat. Lizzie convinced me to get the pesto pasta so that she could try it, and got her usual Chix in a Basket. We shared a piece of Devil's food cake. Pretty good, but I'm still a stone fan of the classic chocolate cake--chocolate on chocolate. How can you go wrong with that? Marshmallow icing is all well and good, but chocolate butter cream ... [she shivers with delight]

I'm getting all the gestures down--how to get a table in the restaurant. How to order. How to signal for the check by making a little box in the air with my fingers. How much to tip.

We came home and watched Happy Gilmore in the airconditioned splendor of the bedroom, lying under the stream of cold air. Before we flew out here, we made a pact: when we felt that we were getting a little overwhelmed with our new experiences, we'd say "it's a Happy Gilmore moment," and we'd watch the movie together to take a time out, to reset. On the way over to the Chocolate Kiss, Lizzie wondered if we should watch the movie.

"What, are you feeling Happy Gilmoreish?" I said.

She shrugged. "Maybe a little."

I don't think she or I really understood just how much space, apart from each other, we'd carved out for ourselves in Green Bay. Even in our smallish two story house, there's enough space for 3 people to have separate domains, and interests.

Now I'm in the livingroom under the fan, a wretched show (Make Me a Supermodel) burbling in the background on ETC, an on-air channel here that skims the most tawdry top layer off American culture and shows it, again and again, in waves of repeats. Lizzie's retired to the bedroom and is rewatching Juno--she did ask for permission first, bless her heart.

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