April 8, 2005

Alive in the Rain

A gray, rainy day in San Francisco. Emerging from the Montgomery Street bart station, I smile at all the umbrellas going up and heads going down as people go the last few blocks of their commutes. I have a simple baseball hat and a waterproof coat, a warm, black number I've had for about three years.

People tend not to realize they are 80% wider when they have an umbrella. Their personal awnings jostle and nudge each other as they hurry down the street to get out of the depressing, cold, wet, rain.

I wish they would allow themselves not to be depressed by the rain.

I look up, close my eyes, feel the cold pinpricks of the drops. They have come all this way, from the sky, from the sunny side of the clouds, just to bring life to the growing things of the earth. The lines they cut through the gray air, the flowing hiss of their crashing to the pavement and the sidewalk and the cars rushing past--these things make me feel alive.

A tiny river hops and rolls down the gutter of Hawthorne Lane, its surface stroked with a crosshatch and vee shapes that glimmer in the flat light. I pass under an awning and feel a slight mist: second-hand rain. A woman stands outside the door of my building, trying to shake off her umbrella. I slide past into the stuffily warm, well-lighted, quiet lobby. At the elevator, another woman allows the rain that her crumpled umbrella has collected to drip off into the carpet. We smile at each other and share the ride to separate floors.

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