Singing in the (Freezing) Rain

 

It was three in the morning and my friend and I were coming home from a late night listening to jazz music overlooking Central Park after seeing a Broadway show (if you envy my life, please keep reading and I assure you, I will fix that). “Twenty-one minutes!?” I said aloud, starring in disbelief at the screens in the subway that indicate when the next train would be arriving. “I could walk home in that time!” (I couldn’t. but I’m a New Yorker and we’re pretty cocky about your fast walking capabilities.) We trekked up the stairs came above ground to find it snowing or sleeting or hailing. I couldn’t tell what the sky was doing but it was freezing and wet and I walking wasn’t an option. (Okay fine, it was never an option but let’s pretend it was if it weren’t for the stupid weather.) It was significantly past my bedtime and I had one of my daily “I hate this city” moments. I know this is the city that never sleeps but I will never be able to comprehend why that’s a good thing. I like sleep. I swallowed another yawn, tried to ignore the strangely large number of people out and about at this hour and decided to call a car.

Flash back about ten hours.

It was almost seventy degrees and the sun was glimmering in full force over the autumn leaves of Central Park. It was about that time I was having my daily “I love this city” moment. Silly me, I should’ve been prepared for that instantaneous season change that occurred at precisely 3:14am. You see, the last time I was enjoying a sunny day in the park, I looked up and saw one little cloud in the sky and forty-five entire seconds later, I was caught in the onset of a torrential downpour.

Alright. I know it’s kind of boring to complain about the weather, but I live in New York and the weather is like another interesting New York character in the story of your day. And like the rest of the New York characters you run into, it’s usually unpredictable, definitely clinically insane, and typically adds some variety to your day that you didn’t ask for or wanted. And when you live in the city and spend a great deal of your commute outside, hiding from the weather in your house or car is impossible. Sure, you can always try and stay inside your cubicle sized apartment while it snows but you better believe those puddles of dirty melted snow on every street corner will not dry up for months and you will have to make the decision whether to grand jeté to your destination or to swim. (I always attempt the first which ends up turning into the second.)

A few weeks prior, I was in California for my best friend’s wedding and we were driving to check on the venue after getting our nails done. We were just outside of Sunny LA and the weather was in its typical swing: perfect. Everything here was lovely and spacious. After leaving New York, this place was like a constant vacation. No trash blowing down the streets. And for a change, I didn’t wake up to the sound of coughing from the guy in the apartment clear across the ally. And the most incredible part of it all was that it practically never rains. Planning an outdoor wedding and knowing the possibility of rain is extremely unlikely was blissfully ludicrous to me.

My best friend was in the driver’s seat half staring at the road and half staring at her nails not sure how she felt about them. “You don’t think they look too orange?” She said. “Not if you don’t” I said trying to be positive. “But yeah, it definitely looked more peach in the bottle.” She stared again at them intently. I stared out the window. “This traffic.” I sighed as we sat in the parking lot that was supposed to be a highway. The traffic is really as bad as everyone says it is out there. “Maybe there was an accident,” I pointed to some firetrucks I saw up ahead. “No I’m pretty sure it’s a wild fire” she said casually. “What?! That’s awful!” We drove up closer and she was right. “Yeah it really is awful,” she said, “but it actually happens a lot out here.” “Why?” I asked. “Well,” She looked over at the firemen running up the hill, “it almost never rains. Everything gets so dry and then I guess it catches fire easier.”

I was thinking about that moment as I was standing under the newspaper stand awning at 3:14am in the freezing wintery mix that was plaguing New York. “This is good,” I thought. Without the rain (or sleet or snow) our land would just dry up, and be the juncture of devastating fires.

So much of living in New York I’ve been praying that life would just get easier; be happy and sunny all the time. I was sick of the challenges, the bad days, and the notion that simply surviving in New York was good enough. I was sick of telling myself, “well at least I live in New York” while fighting the crowds of wide-eyed, slow-walking tourists I had come to resent when not too long ago, I was one of them.

We’ve all heard a million times that life is full of many “storms” and that they’re just the parts in life to just get through. But after a season in my life of what seemed like non-stop “rain”, I realized I needed the rain. My soul needed to be nourished by the water of life’s difficulties so my heart wouldn’t get dry. I needed to be able to stand in the rain and acknowledge the seeds of promises and prayers that it was watering in my life. I needed it to wash away the complacency that comes from an always warm and dry life. And more than that, I needed it to shield me from catching the wild fires of pride. I needed to know how hard it was to survive here in New York before I could actually thrive.

So, yes I’ll probably still complain about the weather, (because I’m a New Yorker and complaining is our official language) but strictly in the cheesy, metaphorical way, I’ve learned to enjoy and sing in the rain. Because I’ve come to begrudgingly admit that rain is not only inevitable but that it’s necessary. And also Gene Kelly made it look so fun.

By: Rachel Goddard

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