Thursday, May 7, 2009

Rain in Your Face

A few weeks ago I was walking home from work on a blustery evening because I had missed my bus. Half way home, it began to rain. This was mid-April, so the rain was quite cold, and the strong winds drove each drop into my face very firmly. Leaning into the wind, squinting and furrowing my brow to resist the icy darts, I honestly felt quite stressed. It would seem there are a lot of things that might stress someone who just got off of work and has to walk through the cold, driving rain, but what I felt was most immediately causing the stress was the tense muscles in my face. I relaxed them, resting my eyelids to protect my eyes from the rain a bit. It felt good. And the rain in my face felt just about the same. It occurred to me that this was probably a blog-worthy metaphor playing out in real life. Is it the rains of life that cause us pain, or the bitter, resentful squinting we do when we step out into them?

Last night when I got out of work, the horizon to the east was clear and bright, but to the west there were black clouds and distant thunder. It was clearly about to storm. I had my gym clothes with me, and there were four days of my gym membership left. It seemed clear - today was a gym day, not a day to run outside. So towards the gym I turned.

But the air was so warm outside, not to mention crammed with sweet aromas from blossoming trees, that I decided I would risk going home and running outside. I had just been given some troubling news at work (to be discussed in another blog entry), and I needed to soak in the skyline and run along the lake - I needed some perspective. I walked a bit faster and changed course for the bus stop. One block from the bus stop, I saw my bus loading - two minutes earlier than it usually does. I began to run, but the bus closed its doors and was pulling away when I was only two houses down. I slowed my pace and prepared mentally to walk home as the dark clouds pulled closer. I was going to need a little more perspective than I initially thought.

Changing into my running clothes at home, the thunder began to shake the pictures on the walls, but there was no rain yet. Looking out the window, I decided I would not be stopped from getting my perspective. I didn't care what the bus or the weather had to say about it. Before stepping out the door the rain began to fall, and hard. A wall of water had blown in, violently disrupting the still, aromatic air. As I waited for the elevator a friendly neighbor looked at me in my shorts, noted my umbrella-less state, and tried to be helpful,

"Do you know it just started to pour buckets out there?"

Yeah. I know. What are you trying to say?

As badass as I had tried to hone my attitude to be up in the apartment, I have to admit the intensity of the rain surprised me. It was almost hard to breathe with that much water in my face. The wind made it hard to run in a straight line. About fifty feet from the door I was saturated, freeing me to forget about the fact that I was getting wet. As I ran toward the lakefront, instinctively avoiding the deep puddles that had already formed in the gutters, I relaxed my face and enjoyed the feeling of excessive amounts of warm water falling on me from the sky. By the time I reached the lake I was almost laughing. Standing on the rocky ledge above the water, watching the lightning light up the darkness over the shimmering, turqoise water, I accepted the new reality of living in an environment filled with flying water instead of air. The water that flowed down my nose and into my mouth tasted sweet, and I pitied the group of runners who had huddled under the bridge to wait out the worst of the storm. How would they ever know how the rain tasted, or how it feels to relax their faces and stop noticing the rain? On the run back I realized how silly I had been to avoid the puddles before, and I made a point to stomp with both feet into every puddle I passed.

Now I am dry. My clothes are dry too.

I wonder when it will rain again.

1 comment:

  1. I remember that day. I was about 1.5 miles into my run, and the sky really did burst with rain. Similarly to you, I realized that I had 8.5 miles to go and it would be better not to get angry and ruin the rest of the run. I ran by bikers and runners hiding under trees. It stopped in five minutes. By the end of my run I was dry and had been happy the whole time. Very unusual behavior for me, considering my usual hate of rain.