More Old Stuff!

January 28, 2008 at 10:00 am (Memories, Writing Exercises)

I am the Rain


It’s raining. I’m sitting in his room, alone, listening to the rain (such a level of comfort—in his room without him—it hasn’t been like this in a long time). I’m listening to the rain, and it occurs to me—I’m falling in love with the rain all over again.

I know the rain in the same way a blind man who sees for the first time knows color—confusing, scary, and yet completing. “This is what they meant,” he might think, but it’s not what they meant—it’s what he sees.

It might have rained in the desert—it must have—but it didn’t in my memories. For me, the desert was always dry. It was choked with dust and it grew beautiful with gold color, but there was no rain. The desert was empty, and dusty, and beautiful.

Then, when I turned six, the world was colored-in with big fat strokes with a green crayon. Everything was green—the trees, the yard in front of my knee house, the plants that were big enough for me to hide under—even the neighbor’s house was green. People find Washington gray and lonely. I think it’s crowded with the color green. Especially after it rains.

I first met the rain when I was six. A real rain, big enough to consume my six-year-old body. I was little, and drenched, and dancing with my sister in the pouring rain. We didn’t know the rain before that, but we did then. Rain was beautiful, it was life, and it was reviving. We stomped in puddles like the children we were, and stayed out there until it was dark, long past the streetlamps turned on (which was the sign we had to go inside). Our mother stood on the porch, dry, with a light above her head, and watched her children meet the rain for the first time.

Every time after that, whenever we moved, Carol and I would meet the rain again. Every new house, new apartment, new cul-de-sac, we would meet the rain. We always moved in September, it seemed, right when the rain started to pour. We stopped meeting our neighbors—they were too wary of the new teenagers dancing in their soaking clothes outside the house with the “For Sale” sign in front of it, the fresh “SOLD” sticker stamped across it.

I would learn what the rain was that way, dancing and laughing with my sister as our bodies, which are already 70% water, swelled with the raindrops and became 80%, 90% rain. I learned what water was when it splashed on my glasses, when it coated my tongue and left iridescent circular patterns on my skin. Every time it rained, my body became less and less dust—the desert was slowly turned to mud, and then just a river, in my body. I became rain, and water.

I thought about this as I sat in his room, listening to the rain pour down outside. It was heavy, a downpour, a rain so far from the misty drizzle that comes down that it’s hard to believe they share a noun. I thought about the most recent time I had met the rain, but it was more like a brief passing of ‘hello’s as I made new friends in the rain—just not with the rain. I thought about the rubber boots I was wearing that day, the ones I had bought to protect myself from the puddles around Red Square, and I felt ashamed. I felt like apologizing to an old friend, but who knows where the rain hides its ears? I didn’t know how to make an apology, how to tell it, “Yes, I have missed you.”

I wanted to be outside in that moment, not working on his computer. His window is too close to his computer, so close that I wonder how he ever manages to write when it rains outside. I’m so close to walking outside, to leaving my homework for the night, untouched, and dancing in the rain. In my mind I’ve already put my boots on (while promising the clouds they’ll come off soon) when he walks in.

He walks in and I’m suddenly sure that my love affair with the rain will have to wait. He’s much too practical, I’ve learned, to go out with me in the rain, and if I leave without him I know his disapproving stare at my untouched homework will ruin any fling I could attempt with the raindrops.
“Rain,” I say, hopeful. “Lets go dancing…”

His hair is wet, he was just walking through the rain, and I’ve never wanted him more. I want him to come with me and run through the rain with me. Yet he nods. He nods, changes into drier clothes (a reasoning in his head beyond mine—that only confuses me). We strip down to the bare minimal for remaining “decent,” and leave. He grabs my hand and we start running, full of excitement, through the rain. I can barely hear him when he shouts, laughing, “This is so cheesy,” but I don’t care. It’s perfect.

We run until I can’t anymore, and we stop holding hands—meeting the rain is personal, and it’s hard to share it with someone else. I’m already surprised he’s stayed with me this long. I take off my boots, and stomp, legs high like those of a soldier, or a marching band, through the pond in front of Carver Gymnasium. I’m in the middle of that puddle, that puddle that becomes a pond, or a lake, or an entire ocean, depending on the size of the creature dealing with it. I’m in the middle and he comes to me, meets me, and kisses me. I’m covered in rain drops, my bare arms covered in the second skin of rain, and he’s kissing me.

Last time I was running through the rain, with friends, I paid no attention to the rain. This, though, this is all inclusive. This is me, and him, and the rain. I feel like I know that the rain knows I apologize, that I’m sorry, and that the rain missed me, too. We walk together out of the puddle, feeling cleaner than a shower makes you, the rain pouring down his hair, off his face, and making me want him even more.

We walk a little further on, still not cold, soaking wet. He finds a spot to hide our shoes, and I keep my promise to the rain—I’m barefoot. He is too, which surprises me, yet makes me smile on the inside (there are pretenses to be kept up in this relationship—mustn’t let him see too much too quickly). I start to dance, and it’s been a long time since I’ve danced in the rain. Since I’ve danced at all.

I dance and shake my hair, the raindrops flying off of me and finding their way back to the ground, their original destination. I pray that my ankle doesn’t give out, that my knee takes pity on me, that my entire legs let me fly for just a little bit longer, and I dance. He’s watching me sometimes, and others he’s distracted by a new puddle, and then he’s not there any more—there’s only my flying limbs, movement meant to praise the rain, and the rain, calm, receiving thanks the way God must look in the middle of a Catholic mass.

In that moment, I am wild; I am not on my knees praising quietly, but moving, celebrating the rain, remembering it and loving it. I know the rain—I know what it feels like to have the rain pour down on my body, hitting my skin and melting into my flesh. I know what it feels like to be 99% rainwater, to feel as fresh as the cold drops. When I’m out of breath from dancing and spinning, I fall and sit on the ground—the middle of a puddle, actually, and stare up at the sky. I’ve already abandoned my glasses, and I let the raindrops fall directly on my face. He calls to me, he found his own connection to the rain, and he calls to me to share it.

He’s standing on a park bench, staring at the sculpture in Red Square that looks like a hollowed out cube. It’s a sculpture designed for you to look through, but he’s not looking at the sky. He’s looking at the rain, and the art it makes on the sculpture. He’s looking at the lines formed by the rain, and how they converge in the center and drip down—a ready-made baptism. We take turns standing under it, letting the water fill our mouths and our faces, and we even kiss under it. We are baptized by this water, the way we both thought baptisms should happen, and we are reborn through the rain.

I know the rain with energy, instead of calm observations. I know the rain because I am the rain, because I’ve spent so many nights and days standing under it and letting it fill me. I’ve known the rain since the first downpour when it washed the desert out of me, and I’ve had rendezvous with it since, secret meetings where we embrace like secret lovers, washing each other with each other until I’m tired, and cold, and need to warm up, because that one percent that’s left of me needs warmth and towels.


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