Note No. 21

June 30, 2009

Hay un hombre sin pantalones.”

A man with no pants? I leap from my perch and rush to the window to see what my mom is talking about but he is gone, having perhaps realized that walking around in a shirt and no underwear on an outdoor patio is a risky thing when it’s about two floors lower than the rest of the surrounding buildings.

“Did he bend over?”

“No, but I wanted him to.”

My jaw drops. “Mutti!”

It’s Day Two of our trip, the first morning of 13 that we will share together, and we decide that the lesson to take from this is that there is always a terrace taller than yours, so be careful; put on your pants. Yet we feel that maybe, just maybe, that rule is only true for the rest of the world, because looking around from our perch on the seventh floor, we are the tallest kids on the block. Surely we could run around with no britches on, if we wanted to; right?

A few days later, when friends come up for a meal on our terrace, one of them confirms our suspicions as she stands on the top pier of the two decks and looks around, noting the protective wall made of scrub that blocks any outside views from looking in. She nods in appreciation and remarks that yes, this would be the perfect place to go topless.

A week later, after doing some Pilates on the top deck, I am finally inspired to shed it all and catch a few strap-free rays on my chest. The cloudless sky overhead is blue as a robin’s egg as I lie under it, eyes closed while savoring the sound of traffic at a distant hum below, mingled with seagulls cawing as they soar overhead.

About 20 minutes later, my entire core warmed to that perfect temperature, like the melted granules of sugar mingling with that last drop of espresso in the bottom of the porcelain cup, I begin to think about my return to the flat below. Then I hear it: the unmistakable thwap-thwap-thwap of helicopter blades. I look up to see it passing right overhead and laugh, waving as I imagine the people inside pointing at my bare breasts, one of them saying, “Hay una mujer en pelotas.”

Turns out there really is no terrace tall enough in this world.

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