“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.”
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I am sitting in the airport, delayed because the sky has settled into the ground like thick gauze. There’s zero visibility. It could be 3 p.m. It could be midnight. Nobody would know the difference. I’m fine to wait until someone can see something. I do hope I get home to my dog tonight.
We arranged our last few itinerary wishes around the forecast. Our forethought in doing so still wasn’t enough. You can’t know how hard the rain will be. You can’t know how many other people you’ll be dodging as you walk through it. And you can’t know how bad a $6.99 umbrella from Duane Read (Walgreens) will be.
Or can you?
I had some time to kill last night while four of my people went into Ripley’s Believe it or Not. I never go into a Ripley’s because I am in the Or Not category and I figure if I’m going to make fun of every exhibit, I can do that outside for free. So I did. I had a duplicate stocking stuffer to return with a receipt to Duane Read. I figured I’d just get on ahead of the forecast and buy my family some umbrellas for today.
After returning the items I had bought and not used in the kids’ stockings, I slapped 6 emergency ponchos and 6 generic black Duane Read umbrellas up on the counter. The man checking me out had long blue hair and looked like he used to be in Genesis. He stopped the process and looked at me.
“Is it raining right now?” he asked.
“No,” I answered. “But I saw that it was supposed to start by 3 a.m. and we have a lot on the schedule tomorrow, so I thought I would buy the umbrellas now.”
“Oh, ok,” he replied. “Just asking. Because we usually only sell this umbrella when it is raining right then.”
Hmm. I’m not sure I like your tone, sir.
“I only need the umbrella for one day,” I said. “We’ll trash it when we’re done. You think it’s got a day in it?”
“Hopefully,” he said. He had begun ringing me up. Even buying the worst umbrellas I could find, with emergency ponchos, I still rang up to $63.10. I wasn’t going to go higher in quality. That meant going higher in price.
I dropped those umbrellas into a brand new Pusheen backpack and walked across the street to Starbucks where I ordered myself a nice hot cocoa with an abundance of whipped cream. There was something about that whole experience that made me feel both very grown up and very childish. The backpack didn’t help my case. Walking to Bryant Park alone, did.
When I awakened this morning, I looked out at the Empire State building and it was lost in the drizzle and the clouds. A 90 story building that had boasted the colors of Christmas throughout our stay was no match for today’s gloom. We packed up and got out early, because our plan was to visit the 9-11 memorial and museum. A few other people made that same plan. So many that we changed our plan to stomping in disgust and getting back on the subway. Well, that’s not exactly how it went, but I personally was bitterly disappointed to skip that. We stood in the rain at the footprint of both the fallen towers and observed the memorial. Then we gave up on the museum.
We wandered the rest of the morning in a rainy Times Square and ate lunch in La Havana. The rain fell cold around us, but we had our $6.99 umbrellas, so we stayed not dry at all. One of the umbrellas only deployed by shaking it furiously, which becomes awkward in a crowd. Brady’s umbrella deployed forcefully at random, which at one point almost caused him a concussion. None of us asked him why he had it pointed at his own head, but it would have been a fair question to ask. The fact that none of us asked probably is its own answer. Jenna’s umbrella turned inside out three different times when the wind hit her wrong. And mine literally separated into two pieces. Other than that, I highly recommend the Duane Read $6.99 generic black umbrella.
The wet cold settled into us until we made it back to our hotel to gather our belongings. Our feet were soaked. Our clothes needed some time with a hotel hair dryer. But the colors. The colors. The colors in Times Square laid like mosaics in the wet streets. It was far more vivid than the dry days we walked it. Sometimes there are gifts in the rain. And colors in the rainy streets.
And sometimes the best thing one can do when it rains is to let it rain.
But there’s also something to be said for a quality umbrella.