It occurred to me last night as I got off the train and stepped into a downpour that I can gauge my stress level by how I react to the rain. It had been an long, exhausting day of teaching both first graders and adults so I was tired. But when the drops from the heavy rain landed on my face I slowed my fast paced stride and took it in. It felt great.
I have always loved the rain.
Flashback to me as a child sitting with my coloring book and listening to Rainy Days and Mondays by The Carpenters while my mom busied herself in the kitchen making us something delicious to eat.
Cut to Joy and I, at eighteen and seventeen years of age respectively, running out during a break from rehearsals for my first college production of The Amorous Flea and into a thunder storm. We found the biggest puddle in the parking lot and dove into it with abandon. It was filthy but we rolled and splashed about laughing our silly young asses off. We didn't care that we had to be back inside in a few minutes.
And there I was at nineteen attending my first concert in Central Park for the now infamous Diana Ross fiasco to raise money for a playground. I had camped out all day with my friends Dana and Eric to secure a spot, but before the show started the skies opened up. A mass of fans pushed forward trampling our blanket but not our spirits. Miss Ross came out and thanked us for sticking around. Loud applause. She sang a few numbers while her hot pink leotard increasingly clung to her with each falling raindrop. When the cats and dogs could no longer be ignored she sent us cautiously on our way. We walked all the way back to Penn Station arriving soaked to the bone. We were drenched and cold, due to the air conditioning on the train, but knowing that I had a hot shower and a warm bed waiting for me make it all worth it.
Jump forward to Mike and I getting caught in a sudden summer shower while riding our bikes on the tow path. Our back tires were kicking up mud so our backs were covered with dirt. We were still a long way from home but we swerved around the newly formed puddles making a valiant effort to slip between the raindrops. Until it hit us that we should simply enjoy the moment. Before we arrived at our destination the rain had stopped and we were treated to the always amazing, always beautiful sight of a rainbow.
I was in my 30s before I understood why anyone would even own an umbrella. Those useless, annoying contraptions that cause more trouble than they are worth. But, I grew up. I felt pressure. I had places to go and people to see, and I didn't want to go there or see them with wet socks and heavy clothes. So I got an umbrella. I ran through the rain and avoided puddles.
As I felt the rain hit my face the other night I made a conscious decision to slow down, breath and really feel it. Feel the dampness on my white dress shirt, feel it stick to my body, feel the water run down my back. Of course, I knew I was about to get in my car and go home to change so it was no big deal.
The point is to hold onto that feeling. That beautifully alive feeling of standing in a storm with your arms outstretched. Just taking a moment to slow down and remember what it was like to spend the day coloring while mom took care of the rest.