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The Soothing Sounds of Rain
The water of Candlewood Lake has many different personalities. Over the course of the summer I’ve watched it turn from tropical blue to menacing black, and every color in between. It never seems content, always changing day to day. Sometimes the water seems to reflect the moods of the lifeguards who sit upon its artificially sanded beaches.
Today the lake seems angry. I am angry too. It swirls in circles within itself, while slight winds tease miniature waves to break upon the shore. The color is black and unforgiving. It seems as though it is so dark, that it could swallow my soul alive. Here I would remain, lost and undiscovered in the water’s secret depths. And nobody would know the difference. It’s an unsettling thought.
I am writing this while huddled under a fairly large beach umbrella, which even so, offers little protection from the steady downpour of rain. Everybody else is sitting under the roof of the guard shack, door open, staring at me. Together they complain in unusually loud voices, and dispute the fact that the beach is remaining open in such weather. Their negativity collectively radiates towards me, and I admit that it is distracting while I try and write. The only part of me exposed to the elements are my toes, which can feel the individual droplets of rain as they fall off the edges of the umbrella. They tickle with each ice cold prick. The rain is calming, and my eyes and face soften. For a second I enter a state of unprecedented relaxation, forgetting my angriness.
While in this state I contemplate something I know would make my fellow lifeguarding friends question my sanity. Here we are, it is fifty degrees and pouring rain, all of us are in sweatpants and I want to lay down in the rain in just my bathing suit. I contemplate deeply for a moment, then decide to give in to temptation. Silently I roll one leg of my sweatpants to my knee and exposed my pale calf to the downpour. For a few precious seconds I let the water drip freely over my uncovered skin. It feels refreshing, exhilarating even. I watched the droplets as they raced down my leg, chasing each other to the bottom. They seemed so free.
But I do not enjoy my unity with the rain for very long. I am being watched, scrutinized by my fellow coworkers for my “weirdness”. Without saying a word I uncurl my pant leg, and allow it to drop to my ankle once more. In the midst of the pattering rain I can clearly hear Kevin stating “What am I going to do with you Alyssa Byrnes”? But I am in no mood for his subtle humor. Instead I draw my knees towards my chest and balance the book I’m writing on closer to my face.
The anger creeps back over me, flooding the forests of my mind. I feel embarrassed even. My face flushes bright red, but I am sure that they did not see it, for they had enough of poking at me, and had retreated into the common room. When their presence was completely gone, I once again let myself slip into an altered reality.
I could feel the rain, the droplets swishing through the air before they hit the ground. Their falling was softened, almost as if they were happy to be dropping thousands of feet from the sky. The rain that fell was fat and heavy, each drop taking a distinct line of descent before hitting the ground. This rain wasn’t angry, and I could feel my angers melting away with each passing minute. The gentle pitter patter of the raindrops falling to Earth was soothing, melodic. As I listened gently the tensions locked away between my shoulder blades began to release ever so slightly. I allowed the angle of my leg to widen, baring my toes to the rain once more. That icy tickle crept back over my feet.
For some reason, unknown, I smile. I smile to myself as my eyes wander the boat-less lake. It doesn’t seem so intimidating anymore. I realized that everything was not as bad as it seemed. Deliberately I undid my hair tie and let my brunette curls fall where they may. It was liberating. I took my left hand and ran my hair through my fingertips. The curls were soft and silky to the touch. It also faintly smelled of coconut having been immediately swept into a bun after washing. The subtle aroma ensnares my senses and I inhaled deeply taking in everything. I smile again, and could feel my anger vanishing away into nothingness. I could feel it escaping my veins, fleeing from every pore in my body.
Cautiously I stand. My back is slightly bent, being that I am almost as tall as the umbrella I sat under. I’m fully aware that this action sent five pairs of eyes out the window to watch me. Their eyes are transfixed upon me. They are monitoring my every movement, watching my every step. But I had come too far to care what they thought.
Slowly I slid my sweatpants down my legs and stepped out of the crumpled heap. I was careful enough to center them under the umbrella so that they wouldn’t run the risk of being soaked. The air itself is freezing and immediately attacks my vulnerable legs. The stubble on my calves stands on end, and I shiver slightly. Without wasting much more time I pulled off my sweatshirt. So I stood hunched over underneath the umbrella, in my one piece guard suit, ready to tackle the rain.
One, two, three, I whispered to myself in a barely audible tone. Then without a moment’s hesitation I jumped out from underneath the umbrella and into the falling wetness. At first touch the droplets pierced and stung my skin with cold, but faded to warmth over time. I raised my face towards the sky, and just let the rain beat upon my skin. It felt as though me entire face was being kissed all over. Kissed by the rain. The water was free in its paths, dripping off the bridge of my nose, sliding off my eyelashes, and trickling over my cheeks. It was invigorating, sensational. In a swift movement, I spread my arms like wings and spun in circles, soaking it all in.
I loved the way the water sat atop my skin, pooling into larger droplets, connecting molecules together. My hands could wipe them, and then drip in excess. I slid my fingertips over water-softened skin. A droplet gathered on my eyelash and I purposely blinked so it would fall. For a few moments I stayed in this blissful state, unifying myself my with the water falling from the sky. By this point my hair had become drenched, and all the curls flattened into one large tangle. I separated half my hair and squeezed out the excess water. It dropped upon the ground same as if it had fallen from the sky. I looked to the spot where it fell, but too many other drops were falling too that it was impossible to pinpoint the exact spot it hit.
At this point I turned again to the lake, and marveled at the difference between the lake and rain. The rain was soothing, tranquil, at peace with itself. The lake portrayed a violent, aggressive undercurrent. It was a puzzling thought that two very different emotions could be inhabiting this very spot at the same time. I almost didn’t understand it, couldn’t figure out why this was so.
But on the other hand, it made perfect sense. It was so conflicted. So unsure of its emotions. It was unsure whether it wanted to be calm and blissful like the rain, or seething and disturbed like the lake. In a way it represented the exact way that I was feeling at the time.
I was so confused because I wanted to be mad, but at the same time I didn’t. Initially I was livid and frustrated, annoyed at everything. But then I gave in to the tranquility and released my inner angers. Both emotions were competing for space within my body. Anger was stronger and more forceful, so it revealed itself on the surface, same as the waves breaking on the lake. The inner peace was hidden, buried and quieted, just like the soothing sounds of the rain.
Here I stood in a storm of my emotions, perfectly playing out my conflicted feelings. For a second I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply. I wanted to feel the intensity of it all, connect myself to the weather occurring around me. When the breath in my body seemed to fill my lungs and deflate I exhaled slowly and felt a quiver down my spine. I looked towards the lake, and intentionally approached it. For a long moment I stood on the shore, to the point where the water waved in and out, but never touched my feet. With another deep breath I took a step forward let the water rush back and forth around my ankles. I buried my toes in the artificial sand, felt myself connecting to the Earth.
I no longer felt connected to my body. I felt disengaged from the entire situation, as if I was merely a bystander watching this happen to another person in my body. Then I closed my eyes and cleared my head of all thoughts. The sounds of filled my ears, echoed throughout my entire body. I felt unhuman, and probably every person there thought I was going melt in the rain. But I did not care what they thought. They would not understand the complexity of it all. Taking another deep breath I kept my eyes closed and waited. Waited for the soothing sounds of the rain to steal me away to the place where I belonged.