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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Local Woman Too Dumb to Stay out of Rain, is Grateful for Dark Clothing

This could've been me. Except I was wearing shorts. And I'm white.

In a move that will surprise few and amuse some, I stepped out of the noon yoga class yesterday (where be-tatted and be-dreaded bartenders and estheticians run free) and into a light rain.

Picture, if you will: I have scaled back my noontime excursion to the bare necessities. Aside from being clothed, I have my yoga bag, clothes, keys, bus pass, iPod, and phone.

And my umbrella.

Because, hey! It looks like it might rain.

Yoga is a relief: upside-down, twisted, free-breathing relief. Sometimes overwhelmed by the details and emotions of my own life, yoga is the only thing that keeps me from breaking typing records and consecutive hours regarding lack-of-sleep.

It slows me down so that I can breathe.

Within moments of leaving yoga, however, I am having trouble with that very thing.

Initially, the rain comes in big drops. I pick up the pace – six blocks to the bus stop and then jiggity-jig, this little piggie is on her way home.

In seconds the storm has me engulfed. Lightning tears across the sky, immediately followed by incredible thunder.

The umbrella blows inside out.

Torn from my hands and looking like an extra from an it-came-from-the-hall-closet horror movie, my black umbrella shoots a dozen feet from me before I can chase it down and plant a sandaled foot on it. Although completely useless now, I can’t see it tumbling, broken, down the street.

That umbrella and I used to be close.

This stretch of Washington has very little on it. At one point I stand in a bus stop for about 10 minutes but, already drenched, choose to slog on. The rain comes in blinding sheets. I hang my head and push into the wind. Gasping for air, my face, legs, and arms are soon numb.

The temperature has dropped at least 15 degrees.

I reach the bus stop, a post on the sidewalk, where I stand next to a retaining wall that hides my bottom half from the wind. Standing water swirls around my feet. I hang my head and close my eyes. I estimate my yoga bag to weigh around 30 pounds.

I haven’t seen another person for three blocks now.

The bus stop itself is on the street, 20 yards from the retaining wall. Across the four-lane street is an enclosed bus stop. Two men are standing in it, and I cannot hear them but can see the blurry outlines of their arms. They are gesturing for me. I step away from the retaining wall.

The flag flying at the apartment building across the parking lot next to me shoots straight up and then drops straight down.


A brilliant streak of light splits the dark early-afternoon sky seemingly directly above my head. The cracking sound it produces is immediate and terrifying. I scream and throw myself on the ground.

Surprisingly, I do not get any wetter than I already am.

I lay there for a moment and wonder if it’s possible that any of the street cameras have caught my terror.

The #10 bus comes. I stand up. It will take me to within six blocks of my house.

I smile wanly at the bus driver.

“You’re wet,” he says.

I walk to the back of the bus. It is bracingly refrigerated.

It is also almost empty, but I stand rather than sit, unwilling to ruin a seat for the next person. A Native American woman smiles at me, nods at the broken ribs of my umbrella. “I have an umbrella just like that,” she says.

Water runs from my legs, from my hair, pools at my feet. I look to clear my glasses but find I have nothing dry to wipe them with. I take out my phone, try to take pictures. It is non-responsive.

I don’t dare look at my iPod.

My teeth are chattering by the time I de-bus.

Six blocks to go. The rain has been reduced to what would still qualify as heavy, and I take off my sandals.

The first two blocks are downhill, and at the bottom of it is a woman in a stalled car, the water up to her doors. I wave at her, and she waves back.

A little further and the water in the streets has gone from mid-shin to above my knees.

A pick-up truck roars by and sends a wall of water into me as high as my shoulders. “Thank you!” I shout.

Aside from fallen tree branches in the street and the insistent whine of sirens on unseen vehicles, the rest of the walk is unremarkable, and I enter the house to the worried looks and ankle-winding-ministrations of the cats.

And I take a very hot bath.


Leslie said...

So you got a little rain, eh?

jenny_o said...

Good grief, Pearl - glad you made it home safely. Some pretty harrowing stuff there.

And yet the power of your pen - eh, keys - is such that I still chuckled at some parts. How can you do that, make people chuckle in the middle of something serious? Nicely done.

Kelley said...

That sounds like a scene right out of a movie that Meg Ryan would star in! Does Meg Ryan still star in movies?

Simply Suthern said...

Poor, poor Pearl.

Wrinkly fingers and toes.

Hows the phone and Ipod?

vanilla said...

And the tears are running from my eyes, sorrowing for our land, because your storm skirted way around to the north and east of us. Dry, dry, dry.
No, they are not tears from laughing at your plight.

Pat said...

I'll bet it was exhilarating though. Wasn't it?

Pearl said...

It WAS exhilarating! And scary.

The phone MOSTLY works -- texting makes it crabby and gives me words I don't recognize. The iPod works, which is just too fabulous.

Susan in the Boonies said...

Bless your heart!!! You almost needed your floaties on your arms, didn't you? That sounds WILD!!!

IndigoWrath said...

Hey, at least it wasn't snow x

Cheryl K said...

Oh Man!! This is the greatest story to tell forever! YAY you!!

powdergirl said...

Holy crap Pearl! I can sympathize with throwing yourself on the ground when the thunder and lightening are simultaneous, that shit'll kill you. Guess you probably lost your yoga Zen on the way home then?

SparkleFarkle said...

I just gotta know: did this ultra-wet episode (the rain, not the hot bath) render you pruny? Sounds like Nature should have entitled you to that much at least, because I say "battle scars" enhance any story! LOL! (And, thank God, they're non-permanent. LOL!)

*throws Pearlie a nice and fluffy, fresh-from-the-clothes dryer warm towel, then, after a sudden light bulb comes on overhead, picks up Pearl and throws HER into the dryer*
Luv, SparkleFarkle~~~~~*

Leenie said...

Think positive. You survived, the iPod survived, the phone, almost. You got SUPER blog fodder! Too bad about your umbrella, but it sounds like you were trendy for the day as umbrellas go. Since the lightning didn't hit you, it was a good day.

Drake Sigar said...

It's going to be one of those days.

jabblog said...

You poor soul! I hope you soon warmed up.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Horrible stuff to be out in. Take some vitamin C and ecchinacea right away to avoid catching a cold. Okay....cats rubbing on wet legs? Instant leg upholstery..just saying. Thank goodness that horrible experience is over.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Oh, my. I was sitting indoors, glad to be safe from all that. You had quite an adventure! And of course, a well-told one.

Daisy said...

I'm glad you arrived home safely Pearl, even if a "lttle" wet and cold. I would have been scared. And glad the cats were there to warm your heart as well as your ankles.

Simply Suthern said...

“Anything you need, you tell Juan and he’ll take care of it.”

Should have hollared for Juan!

mrwriteon said...

Your gift, dear friend, is to take a nightmarish scenario and still render it enchanting and often amusing. How do you do that? Damn it but I admire your style and brilliance.

That gentleman's lady said...

aw :( hope you got warm quickly

Leenie said...

Clicked back on the link of the lady w the umbrella. Wowser! Minn. knows how to do cloudbursts! You probably didn't need to put your clothes in the laundry after all that.

CarrieBoo said...

"You're wet." Hhahaa! Don't ya just love that? ;) It's quite the battle you have travelling to and from work. Crikey mate.

SeaD said...

Seattle gets all kinds of rain, but thankfully not all like that one. Sideways, umbrella turning rain is my very least favorite! Glad you made it back home safely.

Linda O'Connell said...

You should've smacked the driver with the broken 'brella. You are braver than I am. I'd have never walked three blocks in a storm. I'd have hit the ground at the first lightning bolt. Glad you recovered enough to write about it.

haphazardlife said...

Well hell, we got that very rain here yesterday afternoon. With the added bonus of hail. Actually the twin cities should be Minneapolis and Montreal.

Lo said...

Pearl, my dear........I have a torrent of thoughts about this...

First, thank heaven you survived and were not bifurcated by a lightening bolt neither of our lives would have been the same after that.

Because... I have been meaning to tell you this for some time and I guess this is as good a time as any.......I love you. I also admire you, I appreciate you (and I would miss you terribly if you were bifurcated.)

You are an amazing, remarkable, hugely talented person and the world is much better for having you in it.

Hope you are dry by now.

Douglas said...

Isn't it odd how rain and thunderstorms are viewed? I find rain peaceful, refreshing, calming and I find thunderstorms exciting and exhilarating. Maybe because I have not yet been struck by lightning. As I type, I hear the rain outside along with the thunder that so often accompanies it in the afternoons here in Paradise.

My condolences on your experience. Next time, tell that &*&*^% bus driver to turn off the AC when you get on.

alwaysinthebackrow said...

That storm gave me the creeps, and I was inside. I have lived here nearly all of my life, and have seen many a thunderstorm, but that one got to me. I kept feeling as though I might be hit by lightning. I am glad it missed you-well the lightning missed you even if the rain did not.
Stay warm and dry today, please.

Tom G. said...

"I have an umbrella just like that."

Now THAT THERE is HUMOR. Classic, understated, Native American humor.

What a great scene. You should seriously write a screenplay. You craft some awesome visuals.

David L Macaulay said...

wow - buses provide you with so much material - I really should start taking them.

Gigi said...

Oh wow, Pearl! That must have totally ruined the happy, Zen-like feeling that yoga is supposed to give you.

If it's not been too long, throw that phone in a bed of un-cooked rice and maybe you can salvage it.

Macy said...

Pearl, so glad you're OK.
Scared to ask how your ipod is.. did it not predict this terrible turn of events?

R. Jacob said...

Next time I would duck into the nearest bar and wait out the storm!

SherilinR said...

this almost makes me reconsider laughing at my husband when he puts his electronics into a ziploc bag before he puts them into his pockets on days that might possibly turn wet.
glad you made it home and didn't step on anything too gross in your puddle splashing walk home.

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

This? Right here? Is why I pick up an umbrella every time I go to the Dollar Store. Every time.

Bouncin' Barb said...

Oh you poor thing. Good thing it's summertime. I got caught once in a flash flood in downtown Charleston walking from my building to the parking garage which was a block away. It was no fun. Fortunately we have a big Chevy Tahoe so she sailed through the tire high water in the streets as long as I didn't take my foot off the gas. I swear to you big bags of garbage were floating paste me. That's how fast it floods in the low country. Give your umbrella a proper burial! Hugs!!!!

HermanTurnip said...

So...what your saying is, "Just another typical Tuesday"? Argh!

Living in California I'm weather-ignorant. I simply can't relate to storms such as the one you just described. That was until I took a business trip up to North Carolina. I'd never seen rain such as that before. It was actually quite scary how quickly it rolls in and lays waste to everything, then slinks away leaving flooded parking lots and drenched pedestrians in its wake.

Silliyak said...

I'd be impressed if your ipod had shuffled to "When the Levee Breaks" Led Zepplin

Laoch of Chicago said...


Shelly (La Tejana) said...

What an adventure! I'm thinking I would be ready to dance naked outdoors if we coud just get some rain!