Three days of rain in Buenos Aires. While not as romantic as the rainy walk by a market in this original painting by Kathy Chester, and in spite of the fact that it has complicated, or at least messied, a couple of necessary chores, it has been creatively stimulating.
We awakened to a hard, steady rain Monday morning, following a weekend like the best of spring days in a place like San Diego, a sunny, mild Sunday when we went for a long walk around the large lake (twice) in the 3rd of February Park, which is just a few blocks from our apartment; watching the motley parade of other Sunday park walkers — fitness walking, jogging, biking, roller blading, and the like are quite popular in Buenos Aires parks, and 3 February being the largest and most interesting park in the city, attracts crowds on Sundays; it is something of a show for those of us who are walking for the sake of it, not to enhance our cardio fitness, those of us walking for the entertainment of checking out the fitness outfits, ranging from the absolutely silly to the sublime (somewhat enhanced by or defeated by the body within the costume). Every Sunday there is a free public exercise activity lead by a wildly flamboyant gay fellow who exhorts the needy while dancing like a butterfly across the small platform, all to the monotonous but compelling boom-boom rhythm of a sort of music. It is officially Autumn here, but there are mostly one or another variety of palm in the park, which remain green and lively throughout the year, and as yet none of the other trees have begun to lose their leaves. It was a beautiful Sunday.
Tuesday, it rained all day. During a short respite, I managed to walk all the way to Mama Racha and stay dry, but got caught just five minutes into the thirty minute walk back in a downpour, and arrived home looking like, according to our lobby security fellow, a cat tossed into a river. An odd but useful feature of our building is that there is only one apartment on each floor, so the elevator opens onto the private foyer in front of the apartment’s entrance door, which allowed me to shed the soaked clothing and water-logged shoes in the foyer just outside the elevator before traipsing — old, naked, and damp — across the nice hardwood floors and the antique Afghani rug inside the apartment. It was the maid’s day off, otherwise she may have run screaming out of the place and we’d never see her again.
The rain continued Wednesday; sometimes only a foggy drizzle, but usually a steady rain. I am not in the habit of working in the study, or office, of the apartment, although I have sometimes sat on the balcony, surrounded by plants and flowers and the steady big city cacophony of honking horns, and gotten a little work done. But I am at the point in this novel where I would not like to let a whole day go by without getting at least a new page, so I got the tools out of my bag — the Pelikan pen, the yellow legal pad, the plastic envelope containing notes and a working calendar, and the finished printed pages — and sat at my work table. It’s a wonderful work table: had it built of ash to specific details by a carpenter in San Diego in 1986, and it has since traveled widely and almost always without damage; it is seven feet long, three feet wide, and three inches shorter than a standard desk (a typical desk is actually too high for writing, and definitely too high for typing). But there was no place on the table to work. In the cafe, I have an entire table, empty of everything but a coffee cup, bottle of mineral water, and a glass. My office table — it is a table not a desk because it has no drawers, it is just a table with two wide legs at each end — is so cluttered that there was no space left for me to put the papers on one side and the legal pad on the other. The space is consumed by a stupidly and wastefully large all-in-one printer, two back up external hard drives, the imac computer/monitor, keyboard and mouse, my Mac Powerbook, a lamp, a phone, a mug of pens and pencils, and a whole lot of need-to-do-something-about-this mail. Then I couldn’t find the note I had made the night before to remind me of how I intended to start chapter thirty. This pissed me off. There is a bookcase on the wall behind, but it is overflowing with not just books (I keep all my philosophy books there), but sunglasses, reading glasses, a tray holding my wallet, keys, coins, and various IDs to get into here and there, one entire row holding most of my Moleskine journals, some framed photographs, three book bags hanging off both ends, an office tray holding stuff: paperclips, calculator, lens cleanser and rag, note pads, memory sticks, a gorgeous Laguole pocketknife, and a box of rollerball refills. So I spent the rest of the rainy day clearing things out and moving things around, and never did find that note about how to begin chapter thirty.
It’s Thursday morning, and it’s raining. This is not Seattle or Edinburgh. It doesn’t rain all that often in Buenos Aires, so there are no habits for going about life in a steady, chilly drizzle. I mean, look at what I’m doing now while waiting and hoping the rain will let up so I can make a run to the market for wine and cat litter (two of life’s key necessities), and then off to Mama Racha to get to work on not only today’s page, but yesterday’s page, too. But then, I did get all the philosophy books moved off the shelves in the office and to a bookcase in the sitting room that had previously held mostly DVDs, which are seldom watched and are just as happy now in a couple of closet drawers in one of the guest bedrooms, and then use the freed up shelf space to hold some of the clutter that had made my table unusable, so now if I am going to be forced to work here, there is a place to give it a try.
If you live in a rainy place, you are welcome for the laugh I have given you this morning.