The anonymous serenade — what’s a gal to do when caught in a downpour?
August 18, 2012. A month ago I got caught in a downpour sans an umbrella, about an hour’s walk from home. I fast got drenched. What would I do with the rest of the time?
When I’d left home, the sky was azure with a few white clouds. I wore a string-strap shirt, crop pants and walking shoes for an errand to the neighborhood grocery store, toted a shoulder bag and a credit card. As I approached the destination, I thought to walk to my favorite grocery store. It was three-ish miles away, yet there I could get all organic groceries. ‘Twas a win-win-win — a hearty walk for good thinking time, decent exercise, and organic groceries. O how fine and fair was life.
Made it to the favored grocery store at dusk, got the favored groceries and turned toward home. Only a few blocks into that direction, I felt a few raindrops. What? Rain? I looked up at the now dark evening sky, now with many clouds.
Noted that I had no umbrella. Increased my pace. Laughed at myself for it. Unless I had jet-engine skates, I wasn’t to escape any looming rainfall.
Noted that so far this summer, rainfalls lasted a few minutes — 10 at most — before they subsided. Considered ducking under an awning or a bus stop shelter, as I was approaching a highway bridge that had neither.
“You only felt a few drops,” I told myself. Normally, the drops would increase — a veritable warning — before a downpour.
Not so this time. I was a few yards from the bridge when the rain dropped as if from a giant bucket. It was loud and splashing.
The wind blew a chilly temperature. My speed kept adequate body heat. Sidewalk awnings or bus shelters were useless. The rain angled in and ricocheted off the pavement. I couldn’t catch a bus, because I didn’t bring a bus card nor cash.
I was irked. I even frowned, which I don’t do very oft. In my mind I wordlessly groused about how the dominoes fell to strand me to this predicament. The rain continued relentlessly. I was far from the shelter of home.
I approached a bar and cafe, gazed through the window to see its long polished wood bar, gold lighting, and dry patrons — and knew I couldn’t find comfort there. The folks would be perplexed. I’d be a phenomenon who entered and trailed a river. I was in no mood to be followed with a mop. Nor to dry myself with paper towels in the ladies room and to sit all soggy on a barstool while a handsome man nearby would misunderstand everything I was about because all he’d see was that I was waterlogged.
I persisted in the noisy rain. Car lights and streetlights shone blurry against the darkness, and revealed white splashes against the asphalt. I recalled the cliche “soaked to the bone” yet noted that I was soaked through every molecule of my body.
That’s when I felt a shift in attitude. “You’re already as drenched as you can be,” I said to myself. “So what’s wrong with staying in the rain?”
Ah, yes! Now the rain wasn’t irksome. It just was. The ample passing cars kept enough eyes around to keep me safe. As for the sidewalk, it was deserted. It was mine. The rain and the traffic were no longer cacophonic. They were my buffer. Now I could sing! As loudly as I wanted.
‘Twas better than singing at home, where neighbors might be in the hallway and hear. Not that I’d be embarrassed per my voice; I sing well. It’s just that unless I’m on stage I prefer my singing to be private.
Which songs, I asked myself anxiously now. I sang show tunes first — including one of my favorites, “What I Did for Love” from One.
That song has a line, “Look, my eyes are dry ….” I sang it and chuckled. Tonight rain was falling so hard it poured streams over my eyes.
A fellow with a wide umbrella approached from the other way. I paused my song before he could hear it. We exchanged smiles as we passed. There seemed a comradery over being pedestrians in this deluge. I was the more entertaining half.
I peered into restaurants and bars I passed, catching the eyes of folks by the front window. They watched till I was all the way by. Surely I was a conversation interruptor as they commented on the smiling drenched gal.
A few blocks from home, a woman called from a car at a stoplight, “Would you like a ride?”
“No, thank you,” I called cheerfully. “I’m almost home.” I thought how disappointed she would find herself if I’d accepted. Within seconds I’d have left a rainwater swamp on the passenger side.
Crossed the street and continued toward home. Sang my favorite U2 song “Love Is Blindness.” The downpour absorbed my voice into its own euphony.
Back at home, I took off my shoes and took time putting away groceries, let the water pour from the bottom of my crop pants then toweled the trail. My lips remained curved up. It had been awhile since I’d smiled that long.
Retreated to a hot shower by candlelight. Somewhere during this time, the rain outside subsided.