It must have been a strange sight to behold, as I limped-ran toward the Liberty Hotel to take cover. Still looking out toward the river, I watched as it stopped as suddenly as it came on. I slowed my pace, my eyes fixed toward the north, tentatively celebrating the end of the downpour. I had actually joined Charles St. when I saw another wave of heavy drops traveling in my direction. My eyes opened wider and I gasped, throwing the bag over my head again, unconcerned that its contents may have fallen out. I would not be drenched. I ran toward the front doors of the hotel, my bag over my head, my thighs in pain. I asked the doorman if I could stand there for the moment, and he said I could. I thanked him and joined him and another of the hotel staff under the glass awning before the hotel.
I escaped my apartment this morning to try to find a place in open air to read. Several things that happened the day before really left a sour taste in my mouth and I wanted to escape those feelings as much as possible. Frustrated by the complexities in the relationship with my father, bitter about an old friend who seemed to be on top of the world with his new marriage while I still struggled and failed at finding my own mate, and anger at the elusive nature of God's voice after prayers were my lot this morning. So I threw a few things into my bag--my computer, its cord, two books and a towel--hefted it over my shoulder and greeted the morning.
It was sunny and warm this morning, and the weather forecast promised sunny skies and a high of 92. It was going to be hot, but I dressed light in one of my favorite beige tank tops and khaki capris, bearing my shoulders, brown from the parade I'd danced in the week before. I would not let yesterday's events disrupt me from enjoying myself during this, my vacation from medical school.
I at first wanted to study in the Common, but it was earlier enough that many of the homeless were still waking and occupied many of the benches in the shade. That, and there was this odd smell in the air, like the combination of moldy attic and morning breath that distracted me from being at peace this morning. It probably had something to do with the morning sun heating up the damp benches from the previous day's rain.
I caught the T at Park Street and ended up at Harvard, where I sat and read for a few hours in Lamont, the library I had come to despise after studying there for 12 hours at a time or more for my step 1 exam last year.
I became restless around noon and decided to leave Lamont to go to Berry Line. Even though my thighs were in a lot of pain this entire trip due to Saturday's samba lesson, I decided that I would take advantage of the beautiful sunny day and walk home. Never mind that cloud cover had set in while I was sitting on that semi-uncomfortable maroon chair in front of the window on the first floor of Lamont. There was no rain in the forecast for today. It was going to be 92 degrees. This was a momentary thing--surely, it would blow over.
Imagine my surprise stepping into rain.
It was light rain at first, which I was convinced would blow over quickly and the sun would return. I got only a few yards away from the library when larger drops began to fall and soak into my khaki capris. I realized that walking to Berry Line in my fabric flip flips would probably end badly, namely in my falling on my behind, so I scurried back to the lobby of Lamont and stood there until the rain subsided some, then venturing out.
I looked at the clouds, gazing out to the west from whence the storm was coming. They were dark gray and heavy. There would be more rain, probably before I got all the way to the frozen yogurt shop. I walked as quickly as I could without sliding, without causing my thighs to spasm in pain, holding my bag over my head as the drops landed with more force and frequency until I made it to Berry Line, where I sought refuge with a Papaya frozen yogurt until the rain would stop 20 minutes later.
While sitting there, I searched weather.com on my phone. Rain was still not in the forecast. The homepage didn't even show that it was raining now. Cloudy and 76 degrees was all it said. Somehow, in the next hour, it would be 88. As rain dripped from the gutters, I doubted the forecast.
My plans for walking home were dashed. I could just imagine being halfway there and the sky opening up again, leaving me with a wet, dead computer and ruined books as I sought shelter. As soon as the rain let up, I ventured outside to catch the T back home, to the Charles/MGH stop. I'd looked at the radar to see that another pocket of storms would follow the one that had apparently just passed. I could probably get home before that downpour happened. Hopefully.
Even after this turn of events, I found myself mean-mugging it down Mass Ave. I was angry, rather, righteously indignant. Why did the world have to be this way? Why was my father trying to convert me, why did he think my Islam wasn't enough? Would there ever be anyone who would see me for who I am, appreciate me for all I was and actually love me in spite of who I was and what it may mean in society? Here I am, trying to live Islam as I see fit, but I keep feeling like maybe I'm going in the wrong direction, with my brown shoulders to open air. Self-conscious, I tugged at my tank top, looking down, making sure I wasn't showing more of my chest than I bargained for.
I wore a scowl which I almost never do while I walk. I usually smile, but I was angry, and I didn't care who knew. I try, I really do, and I tried. What is God trying to tell me? Am I being abandoned? How much harder is the road to the straight way going to be? I try so hard to be a good Muslim as I understand it, but it's so hard to do so in isolation and without someone to travel through this life with while keeping a Christian father at bay, a father who only knows Christianity so understandably wants me to embrace it.
I sat on the T, trying not to touch the person next to me, not because they bothered me, but because that's the societal standard. As we emerged after the Kendall stop, I was dismayed to see cloud cover returning. The train was not wet, though. It was not raining now, but I knew it may rain later. I would walk home as quickly as my slippery feet and stiff legs would carry me.
But it was not quick enough.
I gazed inside of the hotel from beneath the awning. There was a family of four or five, looking wet and confused like refugees from a sudden war, mouths agape as they watched the rain pour down in sheets. It was just a freak rainstorm, but it's telling how it caught all of our breaths. "It wasn't supposed to rain today," the doorman kept repeating, a phrase that I'd heard up and down the streets of Cambridge after I escaped during a dry period from Berry Line. He was nice enough to let me stand in the lobby as the wind began to blow the rain mist rising up from the warm sidewalk under the awning, wetting me. I stood in the lobby and looked around as people everywhere were static, looking down helplessly as the unrelenting water poured down.
I watched an older woman run with a plastic hat over her head, skipping the awning in favor of her own drenching. If only she knew that this would pass soon, if she just stopped to take cover. Maybe she'd be less wet when she reached her destination, but she kept going, hoping over puddles, not looking up from her feet. It was a smart move, because one could easily slide and fall on the slippery brick outside of Liberty Hotel.
Standing in the lobby, I watched as some of the rich tenants emerged from the inside, standing outside, waiting on the doorman and the valets to retrieve their cars. I gazed at them, with their affected facial expressions and stiff postures, glad that I'd never be them. I didn't envy them, but it was interesting to watch. I was standing in the lobby of Liberty Hotel, a hotel that even after I'm able to afford to stay there, I probably won't.
I cracked a smile as the rain continued on, the family continued to look confused, and the one staff member continued to gaze into the white-out conditions. I realized, in a way, it was an answer to my prayer, or a sign for me, lest I get ahead of myself.
It was a sign that it's God who runs this. God rules, I said inside of my head. No weather forecaster could predict that torrent that drenched us all that early afternoon. It happened so fast and suddenly, reports of the current weather conditions couldn't even keep up. I saw it coming, too. I was walking, content with the small drops pecking me on the cheek and watched the wave of water push it's way southeast, barely giving me time to take cover.
For me, it means that...I don't know what's going to happen in life. I can predict, people can make an educated guess, but in the end, it's God who rules. A sudden, freak, unexpected pocket of precipitation can show up, and even though the radar catches it, no one suspects it because the weather people said it was going to be sunny today.
By all indications, I may spend the rest of my life alone, but I may look to the north and west and a new reality could take me on before I have time to run for cover, with nothing to shield or protect me.
So life may not make sense now, but at any given moment, a new day may come, with new understanding, wiping the frustration, bitterness and anger away, in heavy drops, in all-white sheets of wetness.
I walked gingerly home, sandals sliding on the sidewalk, the moisture squishing between my toes, trees dripping pitter patter on my head. I sang Águas de Março to myself as I watched the remnants of the torrent swirl into drains, collect in puddles, splash from truck tires as they sped by.
"É pau, é pedra, é o fim do caminho, é o resto de toco, é um pouco sozinho. A stick, a stone, it's the end of the road, it's the rest of a stump, it's a little alone."