Sleep Cycles 8.20.2014 / by Walter Kitundu

Our sleep is recovering itself but taking different paths. My wife makes hers up in the mornings and I rise at 5 and steal time in the afternoons. I creep out into the rising heat of the day and try to process my feelings with a cigarette and a stray cat.

I find myself breathing and stepping lightly in a new land. Like a spirit wanting to remain undetected until I gain a deeper understanding of my surroundings. The irony of this is my trepidation makes understanding harder to come by. I sit still as an owl when people emerge from the building and they walk by without noticing the man perched under the palm in a plastic chair. 

It is hard to shake the nervousness that accompanies being surrounded by an unfamiliar language and the certainty that around every corner is a sight that breathes absolutely free of memory or nostalgia. Perhaps  it is the people who soften that blow. Perhaps the human condition is a shared fulcrum from which these encounters pivot, and understanding radiates from there.

For now I share the unnerved comportment of this stray cat who shares the shade of this palm and finds respite from the heat. The only difference is she has real concerns.

Later today we will walk the streets of Tehran once again and land in a lovely book store. It will be after 7pm and the temperature will have cooled to 100 degrees. We will stalk the perimeter of the cafe waiting for a table to clear and I'll thumb through volumes clinging to picture and design as I begin to relish my newfound illiteracy.

We will sip mint lemonade, reminisce, and make careful plans for the days when our sleep banks are full again, and synchronized.

Night begins to soak into the city without displacing the heat of the day. We amble home and visit family who carefully reconstruct all our plans. We eat and watch an old sitcom miraculously streamed in from the states, and we take a tired comfort in it.

We are thrilled to be here but lingering work pressures and tenacious jet lag are veiling our experience. In a couple of days we will be rising together, relaxed and with a world of new corners to turn.