What a day. I woke up to dark gray clouds this morning and a wall of rain was pouring down over our home, over my bedroom windows. I felt the weight and darkness of these clouds. It felt as though my heart was weeping rain. I wasn’t sad, but my emotions felt heavy.
I drove my daughter to school in the pouring rain. It was picture-day in her school and she was very excited to be wearing her “new purple dress with flowers on it”. It is typically a challenge to introduce her to new things. She does not tolerate change well. That includes new clothes or shoes. So this was remarkable that without any fighting, she volunteered to wear not only her new dress but also her new shoes. Her raincoat was a different story. She did not want her friends to see her new raincoat. I don’t understand her and that makes me angry often. I suppose that is where anger comes from for most if not all people. Not understanding things makes us fearful. To overcome the fear, we turn it into anger. I am good at that. At turning my fears to anger.
We made it to school and my husband walked her in. He did not take the umbrella from the trunk of the car. He never does. So he retuned to the car soaking wet. Dress shirt, slacks, shoes, hair, glasses. I bit my tongue to not turn my fear of the car getting wet into anger. I then dropped him off in downtown.
The rain had let up. My son was peacefully snoozing in his car seat. Despite the wet roads, this post storm weather, felt rather refreshing and invigorating. Classical music was playing on the car radio. It was a rather nice choir or operatic piece. It sounded similar to church choir but also different. I don’t like churches. I don’t like church music. I don’t like religion. I began to thing about God, about spirituality and whether or not I believed in it. I still don’t know.
I continued on my drive. Our house is located in a very nice historic part of town with mature tree line streets and majestic historic homes. The greenery and the quiet back streets could easily deceive one to thinking this wasn’t an ugly big city. It is.
I decided to drive a bit in the rain. I am not brave enough to do any walking-in-the-rain. At least I had the window rolled down. At this point the classical station switched to playing a piano piece by Franz Liszt. I didn’t recognize the piece. Thanks to the radio announcer, I learned that many of my favorite pieces are by him. Hungarian Rhapsody is one of my all time favorites but I had no idea he also composed Ave Maria. Now that is a religious song I do like. Later I looked up Ave Maria and learned that multiple composers have composed pieces named after Ave Maria. The famous one that I know of is not by Liszt but Schubert. Franz Schubert. Coincidentally, Schubert and Liszt had the same first name, Franz. The pianist performing was Valentina Lisitsa. What a remarkable pianist. It must be nice to be a remarkable pianist, to be a remarkable anything but especially a pianist. I wish I were remarkable. I am not.
The road I drove took me by a park and the lake. I felt the season. I felt nature. As much as one could driving inside a man made car, upon man made roads looking at a man made lake. I felt nature.
The mansions that line the street were nestled far apart. Between them lush manicured greenery. This part of town is less flat. There is the illusion of hills ever so slightly rolling up and down. I take any hint of an elevation. Even a few steps and a few degrees makes has a positive impact on my psyche. As I rolled down one of those hills, I saw a medium size dog cautiously, somewhat timidly running by the road. Do dogs jog? His run looked more like a jog. It was a peculiar looking dog with pointy ears and a low hanging bushy tail. Wait that wasn’t a dog. It looked like a fox! He turned his head and looked right at me. He was standing on a green stretch between the road and one of the mega mansions. He then looked away. I wanted to reach for my phone and take a picture. I had never seen a fox up close before. I wasn’t even sure if this was a fox, maybe it was a coyote. I had seen Coyotes but not foxes. I wonder if they had either one of those species here. I quickly changed my mind about taking a picture of him. Let the animal be, I told myself. I will remember that inquisitive face as he looked at me. I will remember. I can tell the story of him without proving it. I don’t need a photograph to know it happened. Nature doesn’t need to be photographed to be loved or appreciated, or to exist.
We humans feel the need to photograph everything. EVERYTHING. Taking pictures of food, plate after plate, of faces, face upon face, of shapes, clothes, colors, homes, chairs, things and things, animals, flowers, mountains, possessions, pleasures and pains. There is a need. The need is growing. It is becoming an insatiable need, much like the many other manmade needs we pursue. The pursuit of happiness has become the pursuit of satisfaction. It is an unattainable goal. A mirage. I wonder if earth was a better place before all the things in it became the subject of photographs, expeditions, explorations and study. Before we exploited and dissected all things in the name of humanity, curiosity, God or greed.
I drove away. It had stopped raining. There in the middle of the road laid a tree branch. A very large tree branch chopped off like a twig. Nature does things its way. It doesn’t seem to differentiate between roads, houses, cars or anywhere else for that matter. When it strikes, it doesn’t discriminate.
I made it home safely. My feelings felt lighter. The gray clouds seemed pleasant now. I had positive thoughts and pleasant feelings.
I wanted to sit down and write. To play some piano and sing a song or two. I wanted to dance and sway holding my baby. I felt optimistic. I opened all the shutters and let the gray light in. It had started to rain again. This time the rain was more rapid, with a sense of urgency. As if it were answering the call of the dry land. We have drought in this region so the rain is a much needed intervention. The winds had also picked up. The large trees in front of my windows were swaying. I could hear the thunder near and far.
I felt exposed. I felt valuable against this show of nature. Something about it felt vengeful and hostile. At this point I got a text. It was a tornado warning. I turned on the TV and the local station was storm watch. The sirens began their warning music. It was audible from the streets. This wasn’t just my feelings. This was real. Wouldn’t be a cruel irony if I were blown away in a tornado only weeks from moving away from this crazed town? What if my daughter was hurt, or my husband? Were my last thoughts and words to them unpleasant. Did I say that I loved them? I gulped down my veggie pizza in two rather large hurried bites, burning the roof of my mouth. No time for eating, I had to find a safe place.
I held on to my baby as we sat in the bathtub waiting for the storm to pass. It felt silly to sit in the bathtub. There is a large mirror and widow in this bathrooms. The other bathroom on the second floor is no better. We would be shredded to pieces if a tornado hit the bathroom. I decided to get out and hide beneath the stair case. If it were to hit this house, we wouldn’t survive. I remembered the first few months after we moved here, there were several tornado warnings. I had no idea what those sirens meant or what the safety protocols were in the event of such storms. They should have hand outs about tornados and extreme weather in all ports of entry to this city and this state. Perhaps I should have known. Then again, I kind of know now and still I chose to leave the bathtub. We humans are stubborn and reckless often. Some more than others. Perhaps my recklessness is of the average variety. Just as I am of the average variety. It must be nice to not be average.
The clock hit 4:15 and the tornado warning expired. There were massive storms and heavy rains with significant flooding, damage and power outages but our home was not affected. I survived this.
I survived this writing exercise. Jotting down most of my thoughts about the events of the day. Perhaps I will read it someday and edit it down, though most likely I won’t get around to it! Maybe there is something to be learned from today. Maybe that thing is about the beauty of a fox or an accomplished pianist from the Ukraine. Or to eat mindfully, for example to not gulp down a whole pizza in two bites. I say this as i suffer a predictable heartburn. That is a lesson I am incapable of learning. Perhaps what I learn from today it is the knowing that there is an upside to rain and that storms, even the massive ones do eventually pass.