I had to get cigarettes
. That's all I knew and I was running with it, running out the door with my bike as the fattest and first drops of rain were beginning to freckle the sidewalk. I knew I wouldn't come back looking
I was barely down two streets before twin sheets of white flashed over my face. The lightning felt so close I could almost shave with it. I locked my bike to a pole and walked the rest of the way. I avoided awnings and balconies above that would have proven shelter, as it had for those I passed, for those who ran pell mell across building rivers. With every standing face I passed, I smiled to myself. You don't understand, it said. I live here. We live for rain like this.
In the turbulence of my own life, I am forced to see the blessings. But no, see you don't understand, I tell them. We have really been blessed with this weather. Normally we just get a storm a day, and brief. It never covers us like this.
I darken the mat in front of Sidney's Mart. Moments before a passerby egghead noted, "Wow, you're wet." Genius. Hey lady, this brainiac your beau? You better hold onto him. He's a fucking keeper. The slim girl behind the counter knows ahead to put my smokes in a plastic bag. "Change too?" she asks. Change too.
On my way back to the half mark where my bike was, I passed a girl in a dress that I'd seen on my way into the Quarter. She handed me her camera, looking dipped in orange rubber, and asked if I would take her picture, a picture of her running in the rain. And of course I did.
I couldn't help but whooop and hollar, as though cheering on some invisible game, watching a hidden fireworks display. Every face in every window of every coffee shop stared back at me with a puzzled concern, as though, if I had indeed lost my mind, that soon they would have to come out and face me, and this troubled them. A man walking a block behind me was making loud and pointed monkey sounds, as though calling me an animal for not caring how wet I got, just walking there. My Chucks coal black against my socks which by now where closer to sidewalk than white. I thought then it would have been better for me to have worn a white shirt, but again I was drawing enough attention on my own, shaking my hair out like the full body of a dog.
Everyone must have feared that the fireworks of that evening would be cancelled, that their mid-week break would be ruined. I knew better. At 6 on the dot in stopped, just in time for me to arrive back at my apartment, peeling clothes off of me like discarded leaves.
I couldn't have planned this better.