So I guess the Dalai Lama is reincarnated? I learned that at one point and forgot it. Amber my new friend from the felt and vegetable charity Roger is from tells me this as we walk along in the crisp weekend air after meeting up in front of the State Department Store. I do not tell her that the father of my very first boyfriend stood on his deck by the ocean in Santa Barbara this past August describing how the Dalai Lama stood on the same deck, saw some pelicans, and exclaimed, "So ugly yet so graceful!"
The very first boyfriend I have not seen in over a decade, but I do remember how he held my hand on a schoolbus once and told me about how the Dalai Lama watched him surf--which he apparently hadn’t seen before--and could not stop laughing. Amber’s brother does Tai Chi and builds tree houses in Oxford. Amber tells me that they have tests to find the next Dalai Lama that involve, for example, setting out a bunch of pretty bowls and an old ugly bowl that the previous Dalai Lama may have used and seeing which child gravitates toward the latter.
I don’t know why accents remind me often of water—accents like British. Mongolian accents as sound like dry leaves underfoot and whispers. Amber sounds like a creek.
We eat at a café where there are free Buddhist teachings most evenings. On display for purchase are felt animals from her charity. Little elephants. There’s also a lending library where you can put down around 8 bucks and take a book for three weeks and if you bring it back they refund you.
We go to the Mongolian National Horsehead Fiddle Orchestra’s 15th anniversary performance. Thought always spreads out and goes like a bird skimming an ocean during musical performances for me. A million things/thinks I will not be able to write down. The concert was three hours long. No one sat where they were supposed to sit. We nabbed seats down front of the balcony which were subsequently nabbed by three different pairs of people. We’ll never know which of them had the right tickets. The last half hour new people came in and crushed together—I guess around here there’s second acting—and, as Mongolians are wont to do during performances, answered phones and laughed together and had full-on conversations. I actually didn’t mind the convivial atmosphere, I thought it was funny, but then again I had had over two hours of good concert, including the one horsehead fiddle song that’s so popular it’s been put to a beat with record-scratching noises and young people have it as ther cell phone ring--*I* have it as my cell phone ring; the 21 year old internet engineer who came to my apartment to set up my wireless connection sent it to me via Bluetooth.
I saw a guy covering his arm with a scarf in the crush of people after Amber just walked past the line for the coat check, which was not moving because no one was staying in it—he was standing right behind Amber and I looked directly at him. I often guard my bag way more than is necessary, so I thought I was just feeling alarmish and then he threw his hands up as though fed up by the crowds and disappeared into them. Amber later could not find her wallet. When we gave up the search and parted ways on Sukhbaatar Square the air was strangely balmy and misty like the northeast of the United States on a fall evening.