From the kitchen window I watched the darkness swallow the evening, damp grey-green trees fading to glistening black silhouettes against the clouds that tumbled about the sky. There is something about summer rain...that sultry humidity that builds for hours like a lover's flirtation and then the rush of pounding release infused with the scent of freshly mowed grass, distant bonfires, and hot pavement. The drunken flight of brave fireflies as they attempt to dance despite the deluge, the sway of branches filling the night with the sound of wind and leaves and thrashing.
I hesitated in the doorway to the back porch, the storm louder than the house behind me and everything inside of me. I stepped out till the rain was just skimming my arms, softly...another step and then one more and I slowly sank down to sit on the top step. Closing my eyes, I let the day slip away and focused just on the rain. It was heavy - not a sprinkle or shower - but that drenching wetness that ran thick fingers through my hair and traced paths across my scalp; slipping over my cheekbones, under my jaw and then down my neck to slide along my sundress. The sky cracked and I could feel the thunder inside my bones.
I remember playing endlessly in the rain as a girl. Now? Now I keep an umbrella in the car and plan ahead and shorten errands when the clouds gather...I skirt around the edges and watch through glass as the world rinses the dust away. But not that night. That night I let the rain pull the worries from my mind, wash the doubts and the fog and the uncertainty from my soul. It scoured the shadows from the corners and left me soaked and somehow...clearer.
I stood. I was astonished at the weight of my dress - so easy and loose, now it clung like an unwieldy second skin; wrapping about my ankles, the thin straps digging into the flesh of my shoulders. I left wet footprints and entire puddles behind me as I climbed the stairs. Suddenly chilled, the shower's heat permeated the room while the storm still raged in the night and I slipped silk over my head, braided my hair... I felt lighter. Rather than launder it, I hung the dress to dry in the shower and the next morning it smelled of rain.
Sleeping, for me, is an attempt to dive into an ocean...made of Jell-O. Rather than the swan-like move one envisions, there is much awkward thrusting and some jabbing elbows. A franticness that is alien and undesirable in such a moment...bruising. I've watched my husband and sons drift off casually, so easily as if sleep were the natural conclusion of an offhand breath or finished sentence. For me, it is a battle; sometimes edging closer to a war complete with bloody casualties - a war against the clutches of my waking mind. That vast indigo sea of rest and rejuvenation eludes me for wretched hours.
Often, rather than sinking into its silky depths, I seem to drift mere inches beneath the surface, watching the memories and fears and faces of my conscious mind ripple before me as if I'm lying on my back viewing the world through a translucent aqueous lens mere centimeters thick. The images have lost their crisp edges and begin to blur...I can feel the vacuum beneath me and attempt to plunge away from the surface only to feel tethered by invisible threads that tangle in my hair and flesh.
Sometimes I wonder after day three or four of sleepless unrest, if my judgement, my temperament, my ability to write and cope and paint and cook-more-than-noodles is in permanent peril. For it is within our dreams, our hours of unconsciousness, that our souls are reborn. Our humanity is solidified against the robotic tendencies of routine and repetition. This is what sets us apart....