If I could make it rain today
And wash away this sunny day
Down to the gutter
Last night, the dirty rain came again. An afternoon, enveloped by a dust storm. Later in the night, a feeble attempt at cleansing rain - never heavy enough to fall clean. Picking up the dirt lingering in the air, falling as mud. Today, the city is filthy. I can't help but stare, fixated, by the contrast of the traffic lights. The windward side, muddy and brown, seemingly a world away from the black metal of their reverse.
My shoes leave tread shaped prints on the metal strips joining sections of the concrete surrounding my office building. For a fleeting moment, it's as though my steps are slowly cleaning away the filth. Then I take a step onto the tiled entrance of the building, my tread pattern lost in the jumble of hundreds of footsteps before me. Shifting dirt from outside to in.
I barely remember the sound of overflowing gutters, splashing through the metal grates of drains along the street.
We've waited so long for someone to take us back home
It just takes so long
And meanwhile the days go drifting away
And some of us sink like a stone..
Tuesday was the day that Amy came into my life. I'd love to be able to look back today, and paint a picture of that day, describing a mild Autumn morning, sun shining and a cool breeze blowing through coloured leaves. I'd love to be able to look you in the eye, and say "Yes, I knew from the second I saw you. Henderson speaks of approaching beauty with aching gums, and a melting breast - I thought I understood this before, but I know now that I'd never truly experienced this until that day."
Oh, how I wish I could speak these words, and not have every word a lie.
Truth be told, I was running late - not even enough time to pick up my regular morning coffee (the people running the cafe would have thought I was away sick that day, there's not a doubt about that.) So when a dirty girl came up to me, looking for 50 cents, I didn't even take a second to shake my head. I don't think I even let her get past "Excuse me...." Truth be told, I think I was thinking more about the lingering dust on the ground, than the person speaking to me. Wondering when the rain would finally come.
It didn't occur to me, that I'd just stumbled through the center of a storm, and sidestepped every last drop.
I didn't see Amy for weeks after that. I didn't notice her absence. Still, the skies refused to release a drop of rain.
There has to be a change I'm sure
Today was just a day fading into another
And that can't be what a life is for..
I didn't remember Amy the next time I saw her. Again, on the concrete around my building, again, looking for some spare change. I wasn't running late that day, the steam of a strong coffee wisping in the cooling Autumn air. Still, the only difference this change in circumstances made was the ability to adopt an apologetic mask when shaking my head, again denying her. The focus on dust from the past had been replaced with lust for the bitterness of freshly brewed coffee - no sugar. So I kept on walking, not meeting her eye (how can one man live through such foolishness?) Avoiding the rain I should have known was there.
Then, for the first time, I truly heard Amy speak.
"Excuse me, but I'd really like to know... Why do you entomb yourself in this building, when I can see, so clearly, (I've always considered myself an invisible man. I didn't realise that I had fooled myself into believing this, when I really should have been considering myself transparent) that you're waiting for the rain? You've never noticed me here, but I see you every day. And the last five meters before the sliding door, that swallows you for the rest of the day, you spend with your eyes towards the sky. I know you're looking for leaden clouds.."
After what felt like an eternity stopped in my tracks, I found the courage to turn around. Amy was gone.
Amy hit the atmosphere
Caught herself a rocket ride out of this gutter and
She's never coming back I fear...
My office colleagues must have wondered why I spent so much time walking to the windows at the front of my building, staring hopefully towards the ground over the following days and weeks. Taking steps, almost urgent, until my forehead rested against the glass. Always staring down to begin with. Always leaving, just after taking a look towards the sky.
She still wasn't there.
I spent these days feeling completely dissected. Wondering how it was, that the contents of my soul had been laid so bare, before this girl who I knew not a thing about. The owners of my regular cafe must have felt like I'd been sick for a very long time - I took to catching an earlier train than
normal, skipping my morning coffee. Spending every bit of spare time on the wooden bench facing my office building.
Just looking. Waiting.
Every time a new mass of people disgorged from the train station, or stepped from a bus, I'd be scanning those faces. I'd barely ever seen Amy, except through the corner of an eye - an animal to be avoided, skirted around. I knew though...if her face was in the crowd, I'd see it. I convinced myself, I'd see her light shining. In the middle of a crowd of blind eyes, I'd see her soul shining bright.
Amy had disappeared without a trace. Still, the dirt on the concrete remained.
But anytime it rains,
She just feels a lot better
And that's all that really matters to me..
It took another six weeks for Amy to reappear. Along with her, came the breaking of the drought.
I'd stepped from my train, wondering at the humidity in the underground. I mean...it always feels humid in those stations. They have their own smell, their own air. Try as they might to hide their reality with clean white tiles, electronic screens and wall length advertising hoardings, there's nothing they can do to hide that smell - that sensation of the air clinging just a little more tightly than normal. Today, it just felt a little different. I couldn't wait to hit the air above the station, avoiding the escalators to take the stairs two at a time.
The sky was black. The air felt like it was waiting for a signal...a word...to explode in lightning, and thunder. You know the feeling you get when you have a word on the tip of your tongue? How you know that the knowledge of this word is there, hidden away in a corner of your mind. Yet time and time again, you run headlong into an invisible barrier - completely impenetrable. It felt like the very earth, and sky, had violence on the tip of its tongue. It felt like the world was grasping for that one word, a word to rip a hole in the sky, and unleash torrents of rain. A single word, to wash the dust and dirt away.
"The word you're looking for is release."
I've never felt such release as at that moment. As umbrellas popped up, in shades of red, blue, black and grey (I've never failed to be amazed that after three months of nothing but muddy rain falling, every second person seems to carry protection from the rain), as people scurried for the shelter
of shop awnings, I saw Amy for the very first time.
The water dripping from her fringe, as the dirt was finally carried away. And her smile...softened by the water, it outstripped the beauty of the tumbling water, rushing around our feet.
It was almost as though she sensed that I was about to speak, as the assertiveness in her words was undeniable. "You're not working today."
Not a word more passed between us. I still don't know how this came to pass, I still don't know how Amy found me. But today, Amy and I danced in the rain.
But any time it rains
I just feel a lot better..