A quarter of a century has gone by for me, and sitting on a plane on the way to London for the wedding of an old friend all I can seem to do is check out the hot guy waiting to use the men’s room five cramped rows in front of me.
There was a time years ago, during that stage of my life where memories are covered in fog and smudged by time’s chiseling fingers that I would sit for hours in front of our gigantic picture window and be completely absorbed by the rain falling on the road.
If it was sunny I seemed to feel in the pit of my stomach this obligation to be outside. Adults used to keep telling me that it was nice outside and “the fresh air will do you good.” That was a sentiment I didn’t quite understand. I wanted to sit on the hard wood floor, flatten my paper against a comic book hero on the glass of my picture window and trace the hours away in my living room, in my imagination. “If the air is so fresh,” I found myself thinking, “then why don’t you go get some of it for yourself?”
We endured many surprise tornado scares and hurricanes in southern Connecticut growing up. Some mornings my mother and sister would wake up shivering and bewildered by what sounded like God’s wife slapping him one good smack upside the head. I can imagine what her complaints might have been. It’s too hot in August in California. It’s too cold in Norway. Not to mention that Sandra Bullock hasn’t made a good movie in years and there are millions of starving children dying weekly all over our death dotted planet. But I digress.
The thunder seemed to send a panic through the people around me. And just as the rain would start pelting the roof and window outside my bedroom I would be scooped up and carried to mom’s bed, where Cheryl, my sister was usually already waiting and breathless. I sleep like the dead. So I never heard those dark early mornings when God was being slapped around and we were quarantined to our mother’s bedroom.
The following morning as my eyes blinked into focus I would see clearly a ceiling pattern that was different than mine. There was no oblong crack in the plaster here, and there was no reflection of familiarity hanging above me. We must have had a storm again I would admit disappointedly to myself. I have always loved the rain. And thunder and lightning were, to me, dazzling special effects that weren’t to be missed. But I sleep deeply. So I tended to miss these late night showings. And I would wake up feeling sick about it, as if a best friend had moved away and we didn’t properly get to say our good-byes.
I grew fond of the rain growing up because it seemed to be the only weather that would allow me to do the things I wanted to do with the approval of all the grown-ups around me. When it was raining I wouldn’t hear from a teacher or a babysitter that I should be outside. Instead, I was admonished that I could catch cold if I wasn’t careful, and that I should play inside today. The news that I couldn’t play outside was always delivered with such apology.
Are these people crazy? I want to play inside. I always want to play inside. Inside is where I can write my feeble poetry, turn couches into the batcave, trace my comic book role models by the gray light streaming through the window, through the paper, through my soul. Or I sometimes would simply stare, dumbstruck at the television as Jamie Summers saved the day from bad guys on another antique re-run of The Bionic Woman.
I often used to sit and stare out that picture window contemplating the reason for rain. When I visit home now that gigantic picture window doesn’t look so grand anymore but I still stare out from it….wondering if childhood could simply still be on the other side of that sheet of glass. It’s sunny and even now I feel something inside, an implanted irrational guilt, telling me I should be out doors. “Go and get yourself some fresh air,” I try to muster, “it will do you some good.”