It seems so inadequate, even absurd, in the aftershock of recent events, to write about the weather.
But it is furiously cold today, in Ireland. I am wearing woolly tights beneath my trousers. I am resting the soles of my socks on a hot water bottle. My breath is clouding across the desk in front of me as I type.
I remember the first night of Crossing Borders. The Friday. The wind. I returned to my hotel room in the small hours. My mind effervescing with sentences spoken, sung, strummed. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep, so I sat up to start my blog instead. I switched on BBC World. I intended it as background, but it could not be contained there. Images of Paris bled into my hotel room, ensuring there would be no easy sleep.
I forgot how to sleep for a while, in the Netherlands. I became so convinced I was developing insomnia that I lay in bed and worried all night instead of sleeping.
It was still warm when I left Iowa. Winter didn’t catch up with me until I reached The Hague. On my final day away from home, I was obliged to check out of the hotel at noon. My flight wasn’t until evening. I was exhausted and had no room to lie down in. I sat up in cafes instead. Sipping espresso, trying not to nod off. Because, by then, it had become so that when I tried to stay awake, I would fall asleep, and when I tried to sleep, I would remain baldly awake. I looked out at the sopping, windswept city, and the rain seemed absolutely right.
In Iowa, we used to compare weathers. My fellow writers came from thirty-three different countries. And so I learned how, in Singapore, the skyscrapers cast whole buildings into perpetual shade. In Mongolia, August is the most likely month for rain. In Saudi Arabia, it gets so hot that men walk around dressed in flowing white gowns.
Now I have been a whole week at home. To my fellow writers, I used to describe the Irish climate as ‘moderate’. It never gets terribly hot in summer or terribly cold in winter, I’d say. Then I’d give the example of my house: it requires neither air conditioning nor central heating. But this was a thing I said in summer; I had forgotten the winter cold is terrible after all, that I require woolly tights and hot water bottles.
It seems so inadequate, so absurd, in the aftershock of recent events, to write about how cold I am today.
Because beyond the window, across the desk in front of me, and the laptop keyboard, and the sentences I inadequately, absurdly type, my sun still pops up in the morning, even though it is a feeble, winter sun. My tide still falls out and draws back in again, even though my sea is freezing. My birds still fly and flock and roost, even though they are only crows.