Wednesday, May 6, 2015

As Promised

Today I turned twenty, and the rain finally came.

It's been promising to for days. Clouds heavy with it, hanging over the valley. We've seen it in the mountains - enveloping them in an opaque mist. The sun pulling colors sharply out of such a soft covering.

On Sunday evening, I ran out barefoot on the sidewalk with my brother and his children to see this:
The splayed branches of the walnut tree out front blocked the view from the living room window, but just stepping a little beyond their yard, we could see it. My nephew Leif was held up in his father's arms, his small hand (still rounded by his baby fat) pointing towards the double rainbow.

Today I turned twenty and the rain finally came.

It's been promising to for days. It started like it was a secret, lightly falling as I was biking home at 11pm. Fat drops rolling over my jacket, giving it the same reflective sheen as the puddles pooling on the street. Water soaked through my socks and I could feel the cool touch of it on my thighs as I kept pedaling.

When I got home, I laughed to see our sprinkler system on. The noise of the spray and chik-a-chik-a as the nozzle turned drowned out the soothing patter of rainfall. This system designed to keep our lawns green and picturesquely suburban in defiance of the desert landscape. We get most of our water from snow that accumulates in the mountains. And even that's dry. Feet and feet of snow melt down to a few inches of water in the spring, rushing down waterfalls and stream beds into the valley.  

This rain, and the humidity that's been lingering in the air for days are unfamiliar here. I take a deep breath in, savoring the scent of petrichor. It reminds me where I grew up in Ohio. My father grumbled constantly about overcast skies. And thunderstorms came with the regularity of sun rise and sun set. I was lulled to sleep by the ring of rain rushing down the metal drain pipe outside. I'd wake up during sudden flashes of lightning and count the seconds until I heard the companion clap of thunder.

I turned twenty today and the rain finally came. Instead of going inside and to bed, I took off my shoes and left my helmet on the front stoop and walked out into it.

I feel like twenty is an incredible leap from nineteen. I've had two years of transitioning, while still being justified by that four letter suffix teen. But I turned twenty today and have been confronted with being an adult - whatever that means in a culture that draws out an infinite adolescence. I am an unemployed-college-student, owning neither my own set of cutlery nor my own car. I'd like to feel put-together, secure, confident and dry - but once you're drenched who gives a damn? The rain can keep on falling, it's already done its worst.

I am soaking wet and I let the rain strip away the persona of adulthood too. I leap into the water like I would when I was a kid - just to hear the sound of the splash. It's late and dark, and there's no one out here to see me. No one to see me crouch down to listen more intently to the water singing as it spills out to into a thick stream in the gutter. No one to wonder as I study droplets settling on top of upward facing leaves. There's no one to think I'm crazy as I touch my hand to the sidewalk and then to the street - comparing in my mind the texture of wet concrete and asphalt.

But as I hear a car approaching, it's headlights spilling light across the road, I feel myself tense up. I stand up quickly and pretend to be walking forward. Just as much as I want to feel the rain on my face, I want this stranger passing by to see me as being a twenty year old... as the adult I've been promising to become. 

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