Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Night Vision

Last Thursday, I drove myself from DC to Baltimore to DC to Baltimore. (The last time in rush hour.)  My aunt and uncle live in Baltimore and they let me store things in their basement when I'm overseas. Which is wonderful, truly.  What else would I do?  My car stays in their driveway.  I'm so lucky for that.

Their basement has two entrances, one from inside the house and one from out. Entering from the outside, you have to pull up two doors horizontal to the earth, as if you are at Auntie Em's house in Kansas and there's a tornado on the horizon. You stumble down rain-washed stairs into the concrete basement, balancing boxes of your life between your arms and your hips.

When the lights are on, the basement walls are painted blue with fishes and a seal, the work of my younger cousins when they were teenagers. The basement is pitch black when the lights are off.

Ten days ago was my uncle's birthday, and his son, my older cousin Peter, bought him night vision goggles.  Last Thursday night, Pete and I set off down to the basement, where half of my life was newly boxed and stacked, to test them out.

They are pretty kick-ass.

When I pulled the goggles up to my eyes in the utter darkness, it turned out I was facing a wall, and the first thing I noticed were the fish murals that popped out, completely disorienting me.  I swung around and there's my cousin, looking like a blind person, talking to me but unable to focus on me or on anything, so staring unseeing over my shoulder.   And there's my life, piled up, and it looks weird enough outside of my room, crammed into boxes in a basement, without adding the green tint and shadowless nonsense.  


Last Saturday night it was pouring freezing rain, and a handful of friends and I decided to stay in and drink mulled wine and watch movies.  We watched "Spirited Away", a wonderful Hayao Miyazaki cartoon, and then couldn't agree on what to do next.  One friend suggested that we play "Mafia" like he used to play at camp, where you sit in a room and draw cards -- two people are mafia, one is the cop, and the rest are townspeople -- and you the townspeople have to figure out who the mafia are before they kill you.  In general, my friends and I thought this was a pretty dumb suggestion, but no one had any other viable ideas, so we shrugged and rolled our eyes and agreed to one game.

Three hours later it's 1 a.m., we're on our forth game, and two of my friends are involved in a glaring/screaming match over an accusation of mafia-ties.  I just started giggling hysterically over the ridiculous and joy of it all.

I have good friends.

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