Bill and I stepped out of the store and walked toward the car. We’d gone about fifteen paces when I realized I was getting wet; I looked down and saw the smallest drop of water on my forearm. “What’s this on my skin?” I wondered out loud. And then, “Oh, it’s raining.”
“Funny,” Bill said. “I’ve known it was raining since we stepped outside.”
The clouds weren’t dark overhead. At least, they were only dark in places. The sun was shining. What clouds there were didn’t look as though they meant business.
We drove over Route 40 and looked down at the traffic.
“Looks like it rained hard there,” Bill said.
And sure enough, the pavement was dark from the water, and the cars’ bumpers and taillights seemed softened by the fine spray they aroused in their wake.
I don’t know how old I was on that summer day when I stood with Jill Munns and Janet Fernando on Oaklawn Dr. in Pittsburgh. I think maybe Laura was there, too, and my sister Emily. We stood at the edge of the Munns’ driveway and looked down their street. The street rolled somewhat, as all streets do in Pittsburgh, what with all the hills.
We looked and we could see– very distinctly– that it was raining at the end of their street. Just a few houses away, in fact, we could see that rain was falling there: a sheet of greyness, or a deepening of color, and the sound of it, maybe: the hiss and splash of individual drops that, gathered together, are like someone asking for peace.
We saw this, too, in June on the Masai Mara. Kenya’s share of the Serengeti, here the savannah rolls on and on, interrupted only by the lone acacia or the head and neck of a giraffe. At a distance, hills loom and block the view, but only at a very great distance.
Sometimes, as we rode along, we watched a storm spill over a far-off stretch of land. The sky took on shades of dark blue and deep plum; lightning cut through the blue; a sheet of greyness, or a deepening of color, and no sound but the wind in Kenya’s blond grass, the rattle of our matatu’s diesel engine, the wheels finding their way along the red, rutted road.
No matter where it is raining, the rain must also stop, yes? It finds a place, a line, where it won’t fall, a line that it will not cross, a place that must, for now, this time, stay dry.
Sometimes that line is invisible. The rain thunders down on your roof and you cannot imagine but that it has been raining for the whole of your life, that there is nowhere in the world that doesn’t know rain right now. And sometimes that line is just there on the Mara, or at the other end of Oaklawn Dr, or it cuts through your own backyard.