Where I live now, trees are my nearest neighbors. From my one-room sanctuary on the second floor of a squat building near the river, I wake up always to an exuberance of leaves.
I can literally shake hands with Mangga, the mango tree, and Showers, the bean tree presently bearing hundreds of yellow sprigs. And where there are trees, there are birds, butterflies, dragonflies, moths, ladybugs, lizards, spiders, ants and mosquitoes. Farther, I look out to a neighbor's backyard: a vegetable garden, weeds, moringa stands, clotheslines, a pigpen -- signs of on-going, persistent ordinary lives -- that remind me poignantly of a home and family I have irretrievably lost.
Two months ago, as I marked my eighth month of recovery from severe anxiety disorder, on my Facebook status update, I had written: "I revel in this luxury available only to a troglodyte: having time to reflect on the world of mostly bad news streaming in via the radio. My thoughts achieve a chelonian pace, as I bask in my habitat’s particular joys: the scents of freshly baked breads; yes, most of the time, courtesy of the bakery below my room, and the copious light: large glass windows allowing sunlight in so that the skin, now in the mottled tones of maturing cashew rind, never hungers for warmth."