I waited for you under the big tree
laying on the ground
hiding in the grass
sinking into the dirt
while rocks dug into my shoulders

where were you that Saturday when it rained?
you never brought me a raincoat
no roof for my head
you promised shelter
but you left me laying in rocks

I watched the clouds
billowing and rolling around in the sky
they looked like broken promises
fences. curtains. wicker furniture.
they looked like you

where were that Saturday when it rained?
you told me you’d take me away
how forgetful of you
to take my spirit
but leave my head

the sky cried the tears
I never cried
it moistened the dirt
and buried me where I waited
that Saturday when it rained

The room was dark and there was mathrock noise thrashing about onstage, highly calculated mediocrity. There were too many bands before the headlining act and I was feeling guiltier and guiltier for duping my roommate and his prospective girlfriend for coming along. There were seven people in the audience in total, more filtering in as the evening went on, but everyone was covering their ears or following my lead and attempting to make the music bearable with a little help from the upstairs venue's bar. My medication was draught can Guinness in a plastic cup, and I should've just opted for some Sammy or something that didn't necessarily require a chilled pint glass. I turned to Russ between songs -- up on stage, the lead guitarist was overtuning a string and telling us the title of their next song was Man's Liberation In The Summertime When The Sky Is Falling And The Birds Have Been Thrown Asunder Like Leaves To A Westward Heroin Breeze -- and informed him that I needed to be excused: the beer was taking effect.

I made my way past the stage, into the bathroom, crashed on the toilet. The door had to be held closed with an outstretched foot, but this is a practiced position I'm well used to at these clubs. My eyes wandered around the bathroom graphitti until they settled on a ripped piece of white paper (likely a former sticker promoting one of the area's long forgotten indie acts) that had been written on in blue ball point:
Where were you that Saturday when it rained?

So I thought on that for a while. This was a highly specific Saturday, one that could've occurred with any rain of the year: a winter drizzle that froze the streets solid could've kept me inside, afraid and alone; a summer downpour could've drawn me out from under the eaves and, dancing, from Cambridge to Downtown Crossing.

Where was I indeed? I had no clue. I should've been able to recall a specific memory. That Saturday should've been imprinted and singular, apart from any other Saturday, any drab weekday downpour. The only way I could sort this out was through a process of elimination. It was the first thing I asked Russ when I left the bathroom. It was the first thing I asked a lot of people for a long time. Eventually I would recieve a coherent answer or seven. Eventually I would piece it together.

Where was I that Saturday? Drinking chai, thinking of strange fruit. The chai was good. Not too sweet, not too bitter. The song? Good for staring out a rainy window.

The rainfall was a steady soft cymbal roll, a plod, a lilt on the piano, a sad and beautiful voice. If I shut my eyes and rolled the chai around my mouth, I could pretend it was the taste of melancholy.

Morning was getting the better of me. I had been disturbed by dreams of ancestors I never had: electric impulses reflected against my eye conveyed the presence of motion, provided for my brain the scent of rot and magnolia. These had been haunting me for weeks, I knew that much, but they always faded with the sunshine and I would forget about them by the time sleep finally claimed me again at night. This morning I was trying to hold on to the images, trying to face my subconscious racial guilt.

I could stare out the window from my screened-in porch and find the only tree unclaimed by kudzu. The rain, grey and steady, transformed the flora into a plant that bears my horrific, strange fruit: dark human shapes without faces or dignity, swaying from their ropelike stems, swelling with disease. Borne of hate, they fostered nothing but malice, nourished nothing but antipathy. Their seeds had been planted in my bloodline by spiteful and ignorant ghosts and manifested themselves in the way I naturally divided everyone I encountered into two convenient categories: similar and dissimilar. It was my upbringing and my bloodline that allowed this fruit to grow, and I had no idea how to raze their root structure. In my head they sang along the railroad: Lawdy, Save Mah Soul...

Here is the fruit for the crows to pluck, for the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, for the sun to rot, for the tree to drop.

I blinked five times and the fruit was gone. These were longstanding demons representing a hate that will never be mine. I will always be prejudiced, but only on impulse. This was a line of thought I, unlike my long passed lineage, can dispel. These were the sins of my fathers, and I'd no immediate way to atone.

I finished off my chai in relaxed resignation. The dreams continued for years, but eventually, fertilized by hope and recognition, faded away into the shadows of my subconscious. Strange though the fruit may be, it always drops. Where fruit drops, flowers will grow.

this is where i was on the saturday: in the rain. washing my hair in it. i took myself out for a cup of tea and hoped i would see you, but i didn't. at 3 p.m. i fell asleep.

This is my half: the rain wakes me up at five in the a.m., thunderous and thunderless. From my room I hear it hitting the roofs of cars parked on the street level.

Rain is a blessing when you're permanently late. It is the drab excuse that everyone accepts. I move with appropriate torpor from the bed to the floor, crawling snakelike across the living room and into the shower. This is my manufactured downpour. This is my cleanliness and it is unnatural but I will take it. I open the top window and the cold rain mixes with heated shower water. If I could convince my head to squeeze between the panes, I would, but the shampoo would ruin the marigolds in the planter below. The process follows thusly: shampoo, condition, soap, soap. One soap is anti-bacterial, the second is sandalwood. I call this my scent, this comfortable heady musk. I will wear it when I want to seduce; conversely, I will wear it when I want to relax. The two are often mutually exclusive.

The weather instigates a comfortable amnesia. I forget that we are supposed to meet by accident at the Roxy. Instead I am happy to get just high enough to forget that the Young Ones episode I stumble across is the one where Madness riots in the street to Our House, Suggs smashing some poor kid's head in with Lee's sax. The rain is still coming down around two when, as Neil is blowing up a tea kettle on the teevee, I curse myself and scatter madly for a pair of pants.

By the time I finally arrive at the diner, the waitress, familiar and charmingly homely, sits me down and braces me for the bad news: you have gone, but you have ordered for me the Bukowski special, ham on rye. Our joke is White Bread, No Meat. This is what you've left for me, this is what I'll take. Offer a million such niceties and, in lieu of your presence, I will enjoy them all.

The saturday when it rained, I was sick but running around Jackson Heights in search of a gay bar with Nathaniel the pretty boy organist. He was afraid that the rain would mess up his cover up and hair. We ended up at Friend's Tavern. It was fun.

If it was a meat market, I knew you would never have taken me. What we were doing was convincing each other, a mutual dare. I know you are a little cold in the head, you know I will chicken out if given the chance for a rain check. You look out the window just as the lightning flashes and you shudder just slightly, but turn to me and say No Weather will keep Me Cooped Up Tonight -- Let's Go. So we did.

I spend forever rummaging in the closet for an umbrella. You would be crazy to admit that this coiffure is anything less than a work of modern fucking art, and you'd be doubly so to ask me to let it melt before we found a decent bar. This is Useless, I say, We're Not Going, but you put a hand on my shoulder and reach above us and pull down a little bundle, spring-loaded and meant for a business man. Good Enough? you ask, and I reluctantly nod. We are away.

Even in the light but steady rain, this neighborhood refuses to be drab. I subconsciously touch my fingers to my hair and snarl when you, laughing, catch me. You're Just As Bad, I gripe, but ha ha you laugh a little more and press forward. We are walking down Roosevelt and I want to ignore the shops but you, in a fit of charming torture, slow your gait and gaze at the windows. Mockingly disgusted, I continue to storm forward, careful to avoid the puddles that have taken a day to form, careful because they are pristine, careful because these are new shoes. You catch up and whisper in my ear, Pretty Boy, You are No Fun.

We stop at the entrance to Zodiacs, but it is way too crowded. We stop at the entrance to Atlantis, but spy our deacon and run down the block before he stops us: this is our night out and ours alone.

So Friend's, true to its name, welcomes us. You take a corner table, assess the situation from afar. I shake my umbrella at the door, ask the bartender if they make martinis, then order a gin and tonic. Elbows on the bar, I wink at you. You, eyes on the cute latino boys, only barely catch it. The smile you return is genuine. Saturday rain and everything, our good night is just beginning.

that day i was home, in bed, reading. like a sloth, like stink decadence, reading all day. rain outside, and me, water, reading in pjs till 9pm - put down my books finally and went puddlewalking

I will tell you now that, though I hardly wished him gone, I hardly mourn his passing.

Let me tell you a little bit about his borishness. He was an attractive nuisance, a self-absorbed man with a face hewn from -- well, God, is ivory too pale? Yes, it must be, but tell me he wasn't even good for a laugh or even more and I'll silently agree, but you can watch me blush a little betrayal. Still, all his stories were about him (as though he had never met anybody more interesting), he always looked me just to the side of my face and just above my shoulder when we were out, and he kissed like a dumptruck. So good riddance, good lover.

Of course what this makes me is a free woman, and what this makes today is My Free Saturday. So here is the plan: wool blankets, underneath and thin pyjamas. I've got this pile and Tom Robbins is name number one on top. It's a breeze, large thumbs and chinks and sex and sex and sex. Haven't read Danny, the Champion of the World since I was eight, that gets devoured as well. Tell me about the beach, Mr. Garland. Is it the paradise I always wanted it to be? Guess not, but ha ha I sure enjoyed your game boy logic.

So tell me about torpor and I will tell you about heaven. Tell me about productivity and I will educate you in the matters of a warm bed with the window cracked, rain on the fire escape, safe and a healthy breeze clearing the stink of body odor and carbon dioxide away. Lecture me on hiding myself away from men and I will tell you that my favorite shirt has been worn exactly five hundred times today. I will tell you about tea and biscuits. I will tell you about apples and beer.

But let me tell you, first, about the rain, which isn't so much a downpour and isn't so much a mist. If you could count every drop as it fell, do you think I would love you more? No, this was more of a lazy rain, consistent enough to keep the day grey, soft enough to keep the businessmen below from even bothering to, in one practiced motion, whip their umbrellas from their attachés and pop! protect themselves. This is Saturday's rain: it keeps the indoors in and the outdoors out. The shut-ins will smile, thankful. The dedicated pedestrians will laugh, thankful for the change from oppressive city heat. This is the one rare rain that keeps everybody happy. This is the rain that keeps me reading.

A tiny article on the mathematics of beauty. How To Dress In The Christian Way. The liner notes to a Billie Holiday anthology. Anything that keeps my eyes moving and my body under the covers. The sky slowly segues from overcast to pink clouds. The sodium lamps wake up. Saturday night's regulars look out their windows and decide against a rain check: tonight is still theirs, just like it's mine. This Saturday belongs to all of us.

On that Saturday when it rained, I was inside baking cookies with my girlfriend. I swear. I wasn't murdering anyone!

Murder is a subjective term. What you call Raindrops, I call Wasted Time. What you call Girlfriend, I call Better. What you call Cookies, I call Best Kept Behind Closed Doors. Cookie dough is totally slang for orgasms, it's been said. What you call Murder, I call Love.

i was in downtown portland. kelly and i were at the rose festival "fun center" in waterfront park along the willamette river. we were already in love, but we didn't know it yet. we were walking under the morrison bridge, and we ran into my friend ben emerson. he asked kelly a question, a sort of philosophical question, that he must have thought was very important, because he asked her for an answer a few weeks later. i don't reme(mber what the question was.) kelly and i moved on north along the park, and soon we went to ride the ferris wheel. it was one of those huge ones where you can fit six people in each gondola-hangy-thing, but we were lucky enough to be alone. kelly told me, "there are some things that can only be said at the top of a ferris wheel." (and we began to descend. when we reached the top of the next cycle, i asked her what she had to say, but she didn't respond).

When the ride was over, we trudged through the soggy, trampled sod-turned-muck of waterfront park, and it began to sprinkle. we headed into the city, towards borders books, and it was a full drizzle by the time we reached the store. we went into the coffe(e shop and drank tea). i had my camera, with tri-x black and white film in it. we took pictures of each other. kelly took one of me looking down and to the side. my hair was wet (and small and curly). i took two pictures of kelly. one of them was blurry, and she was drinking tea. in the other one, she was leaning back and had her hands upside down and backwards against her eyes, the index finger and pinky curled around like glasses. her shirt read, "CA(NADA KICKS ASS)" i still have those photos. you can see bad scans of them on my website, but there are good copies lurking in various places.

kelly and i are living in minnesota now. when we go out on saturdays, we don't go to waterfront park, and it rarely rains. we trud(dge through the snow and wind and ice together. we run through empty classrooms at the university of minnesota and write silly stuff on the chalkboards. we stand on bridges and spit in the mississippi river). we get together and cook potatoes or tofu or curry or soybeans. my hair still shrinks when it's wet, but canada doesn't kick ass on kelly's chest any more. my shirt says that i am confused, kelly's shirt displays a long-defunct radio station from three th(ousand kilometers away). one day a couple months ago kelly and i went to the state fair. we ate cheese curds and looked at baby cows and almost signed both the pro-choice and the pro-life petitions and then we rode the ferris wheel. from the ferris wheel we could see both downtowns, st. paul and minneapolis, but we couldn't see mountains. this was strange; every time i rode a ferris wheel before, i could see mountains. the landscape was desperately, terrifyingly flat, but kelly was there with me. at the top of the ferris wheel we looked at each other and smiled.

Talking to me over a connection plagued by pauses and patches of hiss, you sound infatuated: with rain, with snow, with me, with her, with food, with ferris wheels. I hardly want to interrupt, and later you fill in the blanks. You offer so much of yourself, your space so large it encompasses solar bodies we still hope to see. This was the Saturday when you reminded me how to miss again. This was the Saturday you gave me gladly. This is the Saturday I am thankful for.

where? oh, sitting in a cafe, writing letters to my beloved. no. we were standing in a garden in a park, over the city, giggling in best clothes and waiting to see the rainbow. or, er, inside a secret hideout of sheets and quilts. no, it was trying not to get blown away off the beach that night, shouting through the wind. that other saturday when it rained? in the desert. honest. it was pouring with rain across the castle in the desert and everything went grey and red. (it seems to rain on all good days)

We were back in Portland -- oh, this was May, a year before she moved -- and on foot everywhere. Rose Parade, Powell's, riding the MAX until it ran no more. That entire week you'd've thought we weren't making love in The Capital of Rain, but Saturday, the one day we decide to hit the Washington Zoo, we can't escape the weather. It was that misty rain that Portland always gets, but it soured us on caged animals for the time being, so we hit the Japanese Gardens, holding hands and skipping rocks across the zen gardens. We were the only passengers on the bus through Carson Heights and the driver played tour guide. This was our time and it was perfect.

My troop was coming back from scout camp near Tillamook and we, trapped on state roads and all gazing at our scoutmaster's constant glances at the forming clouds above, made enough ruckus to eventually convince the caravan's leader to pull over and find a campsite for the evening. We were miles away from anything resembling the chintsy KOA that we had stayed at on the way up a week previous, and that suited us just fine. I remember a lake, but I remember the futile efforts more: we stretched a tarp between the two vans and tried fitting sixteen kids underneath. We hardly fit standing underneath the pounding rain, forget sleeping these miserable kids in these conditions. I noticed it before anyone else: a drip that became a trickle that was going to become a rip and, as I tugged on the scoutmaster's sleeve, it did. We covered our heads with our rucksacks and streaked downhill. I slid halfway down, covered myself in Oregon mud. We ran in the rain until we found shelter: a looming pressed fiberglass circus tent that had long been abandoned. This was our red-and-white striped solace, ridiculous though it was. Underneath, we couldn't even hear the words Good Night. The pounding continued even through Sunday morning. We nourished ourselves on cold hot dogs and soggy buns.

Similarily, we were on our way to spelunk in California. The campsite was besieged by an unending torrent just as we started the barbecue. Peng's tent, a giant moldy canvas palace, was springing leaks that weren't at all waylaid by either the tarp above or below. We calculated our losses and pulled up stakes, slept eight to a single hotel room. I was beneath the air conditioner and put a pillow over my feet to keep away the drip.

I was wrong in thinking this was a specific Saturday: the rainy weekend inquired about on the bathroom wall was every rainy weekend, every memory of grief and torment, of joy and paranoia, of strong spirits and inclement weather. It was every heartbreak and every new love. It was every miserable weekend inside, watching the flood waters rise and take my desert town. But, oh, I had to realize: the question wasn't looking for an answer. It was starting a discussion. It was reminding me of all I'd thought I'd forgotten. It was teaching me how to remember.

(the headliners, four bashful rockers from Austin, were as good as ever. inquiries of the weather aside, if they want the throne, they will be king. as we left the show, there wasn't a cloud in the sky.)

I like this rain.

I was a student at a music preparatory school growing up - I spent every Saturday from the age of six to seventeen on the campus of a local state university, though it was a college when I started. Some days my mom or, when I was older, a friend with a car would give me a lift, but most of the time I caught the bus. The campus locked down to vehicular traffic on weekends and the bus stop was on the opposite side of the school from the music building, so getting to class meant a bit of a walk. And in the fall, when the weather turned, the rain as I remember it fell lightly but in quantity, whispering against the interlocked pavement stones and chilling everything it touched, but chilling it gently.

When I would get home my father would more often than not be lying on the living room floor, propped up on a gigantic corduroy pillow with a bag of potato chips on his chest, watching whoever was playing whoever in football that weekend and generally being disinterested in everything else. It was quiet, the bored-but-resigned-to-it quiet, and the afternoons stretched.

Tropical storm Danny is spinning its way up the coast right now and it's playing games with the already-fickle Massachusetts weather - it's 59 degrees in August, and the rain is falling slow, sucking the blinds lazily into the open windows and washing the heat away and nothing is moving with any real determination. Angela is half asleep, napping at noon, and the Chargers are going to be playing the Falcons later.

It's melancholy, but not in an uninviting way, like an old teacher you've just reacquainted with. It's homey and still, and for the first time in a long while I'm realizing that this, in some small way, is what I've been missing so much about New Jersey, and that now it's here with me and I might as well make it comfortable because it's going to be crashing on the couch until April, eating my junk food and drying itself off with my towels and singing along with my radio.

And I think I'm okay with that.

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