Bubullima dhe Vetëtima.


I was having a difficult evening last night, to say the least.

Even my usually methodical and soothing time pounding treadmill at the gym wasn’t enough to alleviate the heaviness I’d been carrying for the past week- if not longer. To add to the fact that I was already feeling down and out, I felt like I needed to order an extra case of sports bras for the amount of support I felt I wasn’t receiving. While untrue, in the moment I felt like I was standing alone.

So I did. I went and stood on my balcony alone, chain smoking and trying to figure out a plan, a route, a decision, make a choice, a movement, a mark. Nothing came , nothing happened, and all I felt was my throat starting to hurt.

I then saw the first streak of lightning fill the sky, smashing the darkness with its jarring brightness. I began counting: one…two…three…four…five…six…seven…eight…nine- then the rolling sound of thunder, the comforting noise that welcomed me to Cambodia a year and a month ago, now nine miles away.  The sounds of ‘bubullima dhe vetëtima’, thunder and lightning in Albanian- the pet names my mother used to call my sister and I when we lived there as young children. I was the thunder; scary, unrelenting, encompassing, yet somehow as the noise- still the lesser noticed. Rachel was the lightning; exciting, a jolt of energy, sporadic, a strike of impact and effect.

I waited for the next flash of light and it came, and in less time- the thunder…the storm moving closer like a dark and beautiful entity. As the wind picked up, my hair flying into the air like a harpy- I stepped to the ledge to look out onto the city. The motos had parked under the protection of tin roofs, dogs had silenced their barking that had commenced as the storm had initially come on, and the usually jauntily noisy restaurant next door had quieted and I heard the rain moving, fast and strong, like a sheet of sheer force from across town towards me. Like a wave, I could hear, feel as soon as it reached where I stood alone. Cool droplets of monsoon waters spattered my feet and dampened my cigarette; I closed my eyes in the moment and let go of the heaviness- at least for the time.

When I opened them, he was next to me. And I realized, I am not alone- I never have been.

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