Here's a story that's been percolating in my brain since it happened last weekend. It was one of those nights that you feel something's going to happen, although you couldn't offer any insight as to what that might be. From my journal:
went to see Jurassic Park City at the Off-Broadway Theatre tonight.
Opening night always has a special energy and any excuse to go downtown
is valid in my book. As I was
searching for a parking spot I could tell that the wind was really
starting to pick up. I parked
and exited the car; it had started to rain. There were four blocks
between the theatre and myself. Piece of cake.
But within moments of exiting my vehicle the rain was no longer in the
form of friendly August droplets, it was in
the form of buckets of water being poured from the sky. Summer storms
are nicer than winter ones, so I wasn't daunted. I kept walking. I mean, I
wasn’t going to miss the show on account of rain.
There’s an odd camaraderie that can
result from unusual circumstances like this. Usually each person on the city street is isolated in their only little world, no attempt at interaction. Not so today. Huddled under awnings waiting for
the crossing symbol to light up with the little walking man, I was making eye
contact and smiling at strangers caught in this storm. We shared a
silent laugh that seemed to say, “Wow, look at this crazy amount of rain! We sure as heck were
not prepared! Ha!” It’s always nice to have a connection with someone, even if
just for a moment.
After block one the wind was starting
to resemble a gale and causing the raindrops to become a little painful as they stung
my face. But I couldn’t help but be struck with how much I love living in Salt
Lake City. I don’t go downtown enough. I love the bustle of the city and all the
stories contained in it. I love walking down crowded streets and feeling like
this is my place in the world. I knew I loved the city on crisp winter nights
and calm spring days, but I didn’t yet know that I loved it in the center of a
summer storm, hair saturated with rain and feeling slightly ridiculous as
pedestrians with umbrellas strolled by. I do, though. Love it.
By block two I was laughing at the
perfection of it all. I’ve been walking through an emotional rainstorm for the
last couple months. It’s been beyond rough, and people are probably tired of hearing
about it. (For which I apologize. A major defining crisis has been thrust upon me upon me. I've learned A LOT, and I keep wanting to talk about it.) But now, confronted with a physical storm and the chance to turn around, I knew
that I could and would keep going. I could walk for miles if I needed to. This
storm wouldn’t beat me. An insane part of my brain even relished the challenge.
“Is this the best you’ve got? I can keep up in this all day! Bring on the
hail!” (I am so grateful it did not hail.) It was nice to have a physical match for the emotional turmoil that has flooded my inner landscape.
Block three-- the rain had already soaked my
clothes clear through and showed no signs of stopping. Catching a glimpse of myself in a store-front window confirmed my suspicions that I looked very much like a bedraggled kitten. I had to smile. My t-shirt clung to my body and my jeans-- well, wet jeans are a special form of torture. At least I was wearing sandals and not something that would require socks. Sitting for two hours in wet socks would be even worse than the aforementioned jeans.
Dashing across the
street with a business-looking man (the weather is no respecter of persons) we
splashed, with no dignity whatsoever, through puddles that reached up to our
ankles. At this point the wind was out of control. When stepping away from the
shelter of a sturdy building I felt an instant of apprehension that I was going
to be blown into the street. I briefly entertained the
notion of clinging to a light pole. Surely that would keep me anchored to the
earth. The rain unrelentingly pounding into my eyes made it virtually impossible
to see; I hoped that no drivers decided to text and drive today, because one of
us had to have eyes on the road.
Sometimes you live moments that you
know will be remembered even as they are springing into being. This was one of them. It probably doesn’t sound
significant-- walking alone in the city through the worst rainstorm I'd been
exposed to in years-- but it was. I felt like my surroundings matched my inner
atmosphere, and I felt free. When the worst happens and you keep going, that’s
winning, right? My hard things might not seem unique or life threatening on paper, but
they have felt that way. And I have kept going. Walking through this storm was therapeutic.
Anyway, it sounds odd, but I wanted
the walk to last forever. I wanted to laugh in the face of the storm and continue proving something to myself, although exactly what I was proving was hard to define. But four blocks doesn’t take that long, even in the pounding
rain that seems to herald the building of an ark (will people ever stop making
Noah comments every time rain pours down?), and then I arrived at the theatre. The
spell was broken when I stepped inside. Not in a negative
way, just, the moment was gone. No longer was I the instant friend of strangers on the street, a warrior claiming victory with every step. I was now a girl in the presence of non-rainstorm people,
drenched to the bone, dripping all over the carpet. My shoes were already
making that squelching sound I hate so much.
“Hello,” I said self-consciously to
the man standing by the door surveying me curiously. “It’s a little bit wet out
there.” It is one thing to be soaking wet outside, alongside other soaking wet
people. It is quite another to be soaking wet inside a building where no one
else is. I felt like a character in a gothic novel, making my entrance while
silhouetted against a flash of lightning. Eric Jensen was in the lobby, who I
recognized as a writer, actor, director, and what have you at the OBT. He approached me with a
smile and said, “You look like you fell in the lake!” Yes, I was the
wettest I’ve ever been without having visited a water park, but it sure did
give me an instant conversation starter. I carefully peeled apart the folded
ticket in my purse to present to the usher, then made my way downstairs to
attempt to wring out my shirt, jeans, and ponytail in the bathroom. The venture
was not very successful. When I came back upstairs an usher found me and
gave me both a towel and a blanket, saying, “You’re going to be cold.” Is that
the sweetest thing you have ever heard or what? I was so touched; I simply couldn't get over it. What a
theatre. What kind and thoughtful people! (I will do a show there someday. It's on my SLC bucket list.)
The show was good. I laughed at
Robert Redford impersonations, BYU jokes, and “sort of” Australian accents
while wrapped in a borrowed blanket and the knowledge that this is all part of my
character growth arc. Let the rain pour down...... the clouds never bothered me anyway.