Today, an elderly nun with holes in her socks and beaded bracelets wrapped around her wrist curled up with her head in my lap, and today I watched intently while a nun squeezed milk from a cow. I tried what she was doing but no milk came, and we both laughed and laughed. Today I pressed dough and spinach and onions to make dumplings and today I churned butter and taught some ten-year-olds how to speak my language. I learned ten new Ladakhi words too, and daydreamed about a girl I am coming to know. Today I slept for an hour after lunch, tired from breathing so hard at this altitude.
I started a story and sang Cat Stevens songs to the nuns. I washed dishes and danced in the kitchen and didn’t laugh with everyone else when they pantsed the smallest nun because she was so embarrassed. I ate chappatis and yogurt and rice and vegetables and dumplings and eggs. I read about a woman who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, and her misery and delight made me want to suffer and revel in that way too. Today I hung a blanket out in the sun, and now it smells like sun. Tonight, I watched the nuns watch the small specks of light in the distance –seven jeeps! All going to the marriage in the next village. Tonight, I will sleep under my sun blanket and hold my arms around me so my happiness stays in me forever.