Thursday, December 20, 2012

It’s Supposed to Rain Tonight

It’s supposed to rain tonight.
I can see the storm slowly heading this way across the flats.
More of the usual cold, wet weather that winter brings,
More dark, gray depressing days,
More memories of miserable wet mistakes from the past
Come clearer as the rain fall comes closer
And the wind whips through the lonesome leafless trees.

I've never really liked the rain much,
Except maybe, when we played tackle football in muddy Rancho Park.
As a kid it kept me indoors,
Watching TV, twisting the dial across all seven channels,
Or reading comic books over and over,
Finding something to get into an argument with my sister about,
Or maybe finding new and different ways to sort my baseball cards again.

During my college days, I remember rainy winters
Back when my parking space at UCLA was so far away that it seemed like it was in another state.
Hiking across the campus through the downpour
Trying to keep my books dry,
Sitting soggy in the reading room in Powell Library,
Eating vending machine sandwiches for lunch
And trying to navigate lecture halls full of umbrellas and slippery rain slickers.

When I grew up, I still could always pass on the rain.
Too cold and wet my for my hot sauce transfused California blood,
Too many cars going too slowly on my oily slick rush hour commute,
Too many restless kids in my classroom
Resisting being cooped up all day,
Halls slippery when wet, crowded with herds of soggy urchins
Providing a thundering din ringing off the metallic locker lined walls.

And, of course, there was that one winter,
Twenty years gone now,
When she left in the midst of a downpour
And I was left to fend for myself again,
Left literally out in the cold and rain that seemed to go on and on,
Day after rainy day for what seemed like forever;
A constant gray shroud that seemed to cover everything.

The rain finally ended as it always does
But that gray cover stayed with me
Through a spring that never really sprung,
Through a summer of muted colors and dying dreams,
Through an autumn covered over with falling leaves and broken limbs
And then back to winter rains again.
The year was gone but, I was still lost in the flood.

It took longer than I expected to find my way.
It took longer than I ever imagined it would
But then, one day, out of the blue and unexpected
I suddenly realized that the sky was clear and bright,
That my storm had finally moved on,
Over the mountain of doubts that I had built
And disappeared out into the empty desert of my lost hopes and dreams.

That was many years and storms ago, but it still comes back
When the rain starts, and the traffic snarls,
When the colored lights glisten and reflect on the dark slick roads,
When there is no escape from the constant drone of seasonal songs
And I sit quietly as the rain pounds down on my roof
And wonder how memories long swept away by the decades
Managed to find their way home in the rain.

But that’s just a momentary pain
Because time has done what it does so well.
Worn away the rough edges,
Smoothed down the internal anguish and shame,
Healed that once throbbing wound,
Left that scar as a slowly fading reminder
Of what “Gone but not forgotten” really means.

It took me so long to learn
That in the end everything comes and goes,
That memories live longer than their pain,
That lessons seemingly long forgotten linger for a reason,
That losing her love in that dark December rain
Allowed the seeds of my soul to find the light
And allowed to me become the man I should have been then.

It’s going to rain tonight.
I’m sort of looking forward to it.
I know that her face will be floating in the clouds
But that doesn’t really matter anymore.
If she had never left, I’d never be here.
If it hadn’t rained that night, if those rains had never come
I’d still be that dry, heartless desert of a man that I was before that storm.

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