Of course, I hadn’t packed an umbrella.
The misty rain was dusting the top of my head, leaving little beads of (possibly contaminated) New York water in my hair. I was standing at the crosswalk of Madison Ave and 32nd, waiting for a break in traffic.
Slowly soaking, I thought of all the other times I’d stood in the rain before—sometimes on purpose, sometimes on accident.
One of my more vivid New York summer memories was a violent rainstorm that stuck my first year living in the city. It was the end of June, right as the afternoon’s humidity was building up to the point of combustion.
And combust, it did.
I quickly ran from Union Square toward an awning at the Strand Book Store. From there, I watched lightning strike a building, a torrent of water instantaneously flood the street, and a cute couple hide out from the storm in parallel phone booths, occasionally grabbing the other’s hand.
“Give me your hand!” someone said in clipped English.
I was in Ireland, on the outskirts of Galway. We were all bathing in some precious sun on a dock looking toward the Arian Islands, when pellets of rain began their victorious attack. Some of my travel buddies were from Italy, others from Belgium and France—but you could have guessed what expletive we all uttered in international unison.
We needed to find temporary shelter. “Come on!” the accent said again, so I grabbed his hand, and we ran down the slippery pier, half laughing, half cursing the lush, green country we so adored.
I adored everything about Montreat, North Carolina. The quaint town of Black Mountain, the square dances held in an old barn every Friday night, the funny kids we worked with at camp each day—I loved it all.
But I did not love our rainy Fourth of July. This particular holiday is Montreat’s thing. The Fourth of July is to Montreat, as Thanksgiving is to New York, as Fat Tuesday is to New Orleans. Between the big parade and assortment of country fair-like activities, to the dances in the evening and the masses of guest from out of town, this little North Carolina community is in its prime on July 4th. So when the rain started to fall as I was watching someone attempt to climb a sticky pole, I sighed.
“Girls you are sopping wet. No, no… come here, Gracie. Everyone stay put. I just cleaned the floor. We need towels…”
Kathryn, Grace, and I looked like three little drowned rats. We had been playing in the front yard, when a summer squall began brewing. I’ve always loved the beginnings of a storm; there’s an increasing buzz in the air. The wind picks up, and you can smell a shift in the weather—something is about to happen.
So going inside hadn’t crossed my 10-year-old mind.
Instead, the sisters had pretended that we’d lived on a farm. Were the cows safe? Had someone gathered up all the chickens and roosters? They wouldn’t survive the impending sheets of rain… and wasn’t there a horse missing?
We ran around the front yard, collecting scared (and invisible) animals. Even when the rain started to pour down, we didn’t want to leave our posts. I was sure the animals needed us, the fantastic farming Fitzgerald girls.
You might say we had active imaginations.
My imagination was interrupted by a honking horn. It was before 9AM, and I’d already been to Ireland, North Carolina, home, and back to the city again. Almost no time had passed at all, as my brain had connected together hundreds of images and acute memories.
But it was time to cross the street.
I decided I didn’t mind the rain so much.