Personal Essay

1 a: water falling in drops condensed from vapor in the atmosphere b: the descent of this water c: water that has fallen as rain 2 a: a fall of rain b plural: the rainy season 3: rainy weather 4: a heavy fallRain, like so many life moments, is bittersweet. I cannot determine when, where, how long, or how much it rains. Neither can the weather man. Rain is out of our mortal hands. Some attempt to escape the rain, but it always finds us. It gets us wet when want to stay dry. And sometimes, it doesn’t rain when we crave, and need, its precious drops. Rain can ruin a summer day or a perfectly coifed hairdo. Without rain, flowers and crops do not grow. Too much rain, and excessive flooding can result. Not enough rain, and there are catastrophic droughts. Rain can evoke depression and joy. Essential to survival, it is a necessary element of all life.

When it rains, separate drops of water fall to the Earth from clouds. Rain drops are composed of thousands of cloud drops. Precipitation falls only when water particles are large enough to reach the ground. Rain drops that do not reach the surface typically evaporate in the air as they fall.
♫Another day has almost come and gone, can’t imagine what else could go wrong♫
Jo Dee Messina starts to sing “Bring on the Rain”. She isn’t here; I pressed the play button on my CD player. A storm has come that I am not prepared to face. It is past 11 o’clock and I have to be up at 5:00am.

♫Sometimes I’d like to hide away, somewhere and lock the door, a single battle lost but not the war♫
Even though everyone is asleep, my bedroom door is still open. Elizabeth, my little sister, sleeps peacefully in the opposite corner of the room. I settle the icepack on my shoulder and lean my head against the headboard. It’s a wonder my shoulder hasn’t frozen solid by now. At school I have been icing it every hour. Dr. Storey says that might help the swelling.

♫‘Cause tomorrow’s another day, and I’m thirsty anyway, so bring on the rain♫
Tomorrow is Friday and that means another softball game where I won’t play. Tears start to fall. Rain drips from my eyes. I roll over in a meager attempt to stifle my sobs, but it makes no difference.

♫It’s almost like the hard times circle ‘round, a couple drops, and they all start coming down♫
For the first time in my life, I want to lie down and submit to failure. My right shoulder, my throwing arm, hurts all the time. I don’t know what’s wrong, and no professional seems to be able to figure it out either. I might need surgery, but it’s not for sure yet.

♫Yeah, I might feel defeated, I might hang my head, I might be barely breathing - but I’m not dead, no♫
I am already a sophomore and have yet to make the varsity softball team. I know I will never go on to play college ball. All I want is to be a varsity contender. The thought of not being able to reach my goal makes me nauseous. I’m no good, even on JV, if I can’t throw a ball or swing a bat. My dream is slipping through wet hands.

♫Tomorrow’s another day and I’m thirsty anyway, so bring on the rain♫
I wake up every morning to a new tomorrow, and I am not fixed. The pain never subsides. I hurt from the outside in. I don’t know how much more rain I can take.

♫I’m not gonna’ let it get me down. I’m not gonna’ cry; and I’m not gonna’ lose any sleep tonight♫
The music fades out. This bittersweet lullaby has been singing me to sleep for the past few nights. My clock blinks 12:05am. I need to sleep.

Both the earth and humans, release their own types of tears. Rain and tears are often synonymous with one another. Raindrops are commonly depicted as teardrop-shaped. In actuality, raindrops are spherical. Only when water drips off of something, does a raindrop bear true resemblance to a teardrop. Human tears help to nourish and protect the surface of the eye. Without tears, the eye becomes irritated, red, and bloodshot. All life needs ‘tears’ to cope and endure.

It is the summer before I start my senior year of high school. My church’s annual weekend youth conference is being held at church-owned property about forty-five minutes from my house. For the first time in two years, I have not been a member of the conference planning committee. Everything is going to be a surprise. I am determined to be myself, and to forgo my usual inhibitions, insecurities, and fears. I have no responsibilities or expectations.

The first day of the conference was sunny. Today, I woke up to an impending flood. Luckily, the girl tent is not too deep in water, but the boys’ tent is partially submerged in a puddle that looks more like a lake. The adult leaders hope the rain will stop, so each group starts the scavenger hunt/obstacle course activity. John and I lead our group as we scour the upper and lower fields for clues. Our group all holds hands to cross the river during one leg of the course. John is in front of me, guiding the way. I feel safe grasping his clammy hand. I want to drown into his soft brown eyes. There is something different about this boy.

After the scavenger hunt, John and I shiver together, as we try to focus on the motivational speaker. John brings me some much needed hot chocolate, and we eat lunch with his guy friends. As the rain falls, I start to feel my heart go with it. The water is relentless. I am seventeen and have lived in the Seattle area my entire life, and I have never seen it rain like this. Ironically, it is the middle of August, usually the second nicest month of the year. Eventually, everyone is forced to retreat back to the church to finish out the day’s activities.

At the church, the monsoon still rages. The rain has washed away my inhibitions. John and I spend the entire day together. Somehow, it feels natural. We let our knees and elbows brush against each other, while we sit and cheer on our teammates in a Fear Factor like food eating contest. At one point, we rescue the coolers from overflowing and flooding the kitchen. In the evening, John picks me as his “date” for a scene in our group skit. I fantasize about going on a real date. We sit, talk, and eat vanilla pudding mixed with Oreos and gummy worms, until the skits are over.

On the last day of the conference, all of the youth gather to watch a slideshow of pictures from our weekend adventure. John sits next to me while we watch the pictures, blurred by rain, slide across a screen. Surrounded by over a hundred teenagers, we might as well be the only two people in the room. A closing dance follows the slideshow. We part for awhile, to spend time with our other friends, but as the night progresses, we are drawn back to each other. I don’t want the night to end. I don’t want to find out if the rain has stopped. At 11:00pm, it is finally time to go home. John and I exchange e-mail addresses and promise to write soon. We walk outside to an inky, dry night sky.

I fall hard. Love for John sucks the moisture from my body. Though the rain finally stopped pounding that weekend, my heart replaced it. It will take me four years, a heart pumped dry, and many more rainstorms to reach the surface again.
♫Love's a series of broken sentences
Miscalculations, reconciliations
Seductive highs, destructive lows
Words that fly too fast
Feet that move too slow
Wish I could dance outside this windowpane
Oh, I wish I were the rain
'Cause it can fall as hard as it wants to
Gingerly drip down a lover's face
Cry for hours and weeks on end
And never feel a bit out of place
And it can feed a field, put out a fire
And never feel the pain
I wish I were the rain♫
Lyrics to “I wish I were the rain”

I am eighteen and away from home for my first year of college. It’s only been a month or so, but Provo is so dry! I can’t remember what moisture smells like anymore. Dad wasn’t kidding when he said that in Utah, it’s a dry heat. College is exciting, but I miss home. I know moisture will come in a few months, in the shape of snow, but that’s not the type of precipitation I want or desire. I need rain.
Nutrition class is done for the day. The seats in that classroom are awful. There is absolutely no space to walk in-between the aisles. I think whoever designed the building overlooked some vital elements of construction. My friend Anika and I push the double doors open and head back to the dorms for lunch. A splash of water hits my cheek first, and then I see spots on my jeans. My exposed toes feel the change in the weather. It’s raining.
I start to run across the BYU Campus and Anika follows. At first, we are sure that the rain is out to drown us. We are only halfway to home and I stop. Anika stops too.
“Why are we running?”
“I don’t know, let’s walk.”
“I’m taking my shoes off! My flip-flops are soaked.”
“Yeah, me too, these heels are no good.”
We dance barefoot across the walkway. I see a puddle. I jump and splash Anika, not that she could get any wetter. Nature gives me a shower. I don’t have an umbrella and I don’t want one.
My nostrils drink in the sweet smell of moisture. I can breathe. Anika laughs in delight. The rain paints a smile on both of our faces. Droplets sink into our thirsty pores.
Anika understands rain; she used to live in Washington too. We go right to the cafeteria. There is no sense in changing before we eat lunch and go back to our rooms. We are both oblivious to our sopping clothes. If we take them off, the rain will go with them. I want to make the rain last. I don’t know if, or when, it will be back again.
“This is perfect, I needed this today.”
“I couldn’t agree more.”
I know rain. I know how it feels against my face and how it can coat bare toes in a gloomy chill. I always recognize when moisture is in the air. Growing up in Seattle, rain has been my constant companion. I have had to learn how to adapt to living in a place where rain falls at anytime. Some days you hate the rain, other days you welcome its presence. Either way, it is always there, an impending ruin or delight. Nothing in my life is the same, except for the rain.

1 comment:

jjfid said...

I love this finished piece Rissy! Excellent job tying it all together! I could feel right along with you as I read and rain takes on a whole new dimension in my mind now! I love to read what is in your heart and head.
My niece is a writer! Hip Hip Hurray!!!!
Love you! xoxoxo Auntie