This evening, as I walked home from work, I got caught in the rain.
It started to drizzle as I made my way east on Houston St. As I began to wish I had an umbrella, a friend I haven’t seen in years interrupted my steady march.
“Raisa? Is that you?”
It was me. Hair in a sloppy topknot, wearing my loosest, most-pajama-like pants, mascara already smudged off from the humidity. That’s me, this summer.
“Are you gonna be OK?” she asked as we split, glancing skyward.
“I mean,” I said, “I won’t melt.” And I went on with my walk. The irony here, of course, is that I did once melt—when I was the Wicked Witch of the West, in our seventh grade play. It was dramatic. And traumatic, but that’s a story for another day.
I’m solid flesh now, no witchy stuff left except a penchant towards wearing black and a nose with a bit of a curve. So when it started to pour—buckets, that whole “shower” analogy, lightning flashing, girls in short dresses screaming distantly—what choice did I have? I laughed wryly at my luck, felt my pants grow soggy, let the rest of my makeup wash off, and walked on.
No one wants to relive Hilary Duff’s musical years, but there’s a reason that the old favorite “Coming Clean” was such a smash hit.
I wanna hear the thunder
I wanna scream
Let the rain fall down
I’m coming clean
Poetry? No. Adolescent angst? Absolutely. Young-semi-adult-living-in-NYC? Even better.
We all come to a point in our very-young very-restless lives where, no matter how happy, no matter how lucky, no matter how privileged, we get bored or we get frustrated or we get a little crazy. We think we deserve more. (We don’t.) We think we should be getting somewhere faster. (Nope, not at all.) We think we need a change. (No—actually, we need to get used to consistency and routine.)
Last week, I was also caught in the rain. This time it was on my way to dinner to meet my mom’s close friend. I was late; it had been a long, challenging day; and I felt out of sorts. As I rattled off complaints about my (realistically, quite charmed) life—things like I wasn’t sure enough of myself, I felt out of my element lately, I needed more experience to feel confident in my abilities—she quietly raised an eyebrow as she let me finish.
“Razi,” she said, calling me by my childhood nickname: “What is all that?”
I looked down at my pad thai. “Nothing,” I said, ashamed.
It was all an excuse. We go around telling ourselves excuses. We go around explaining away our faults, calling them intrinsic when they’re really just bad habits we should be fixing. We say “YOYO” (You’re Only Young Once, as one friend has coined it), excusing ourselves from making stupid decisions or choosing the easy route or feeling sorry for ourselves because hedonism is as good a guide as any, and anything that gets in the way of a fun time seems like it should be wrong by default.
That, in turn, is wrong. This is what adulthood is about. It’s work, and it’s being thoughtful and conscious of your choices, and there are no shortcuts.
Which brings me back to the rain, and to getting caught in it. There’s nothing glamorous about being drenched, or about having to dry out your new suede booties and hoping they don’t smell. There’s nothing chic about getting splashed by a dirty street puddle (even if Carrie Bradshaw makes it look cute). There’s only the truth: this is what it is. Next time, come prepared—or go ahead and revel in the glory of some summer thunder and the rain on your skin. (Today, that’s what I did.) Either way: own it, and take responsibility for yourself and for the aftermath.
You really won’t melt.