I remember running out of the house with my friends. We were giddy and full of laughter.
It was mid-July and we were still full of summer, full of the freedom summer vacation brought. It was a Wednesday afternoon, and the week had been hot - it was muggy but I never noticed it when I was a child. I just accepted the weather as something that was, something I couldn't change. No air conditioners, back then.
We were on the front porch. I was allowed to have friends on the porch, but not in the house. The porch was enclosed and I often slept there at night, when it was very hot. My room was stifling in hot weather and the porch was a haven I enjoyed. My mother only allowed me to sleep there once in a while. I wonder, all these years later, if she thought I would run away...
This day, this July day, we'd all been talking about going to high school. Eight grade was done and high school loomed a mere six and a half weeks away.
What would it be like? The school seemed enormous. I was secretly afraid. Afraid of getting lost, not finding classes, having to make new friends. Most of my friends were going off to a different high school. I would be alone in September.
And then, the rain came.
Suddenly, like an angel watering the clouds got distracted and let her cloud fill up too fast, so fast it overflowed like a bucket being emptied on the sidewalk.
The sun was still out, bright yellow rays peeking out from behind the sudden cloud.
We laughed and twirled in the rain and didn't think of anything but the joy of summer and being cooled by a sudden shower.
Someone pointed and shouted, "Look a rainbow!"
Oh but rainbows are marvelous things, aren't they? Was it the angel smiling down, realizing her mistake and giving us a sign that it wasn't a big deal? Was she even laughing a little, enjoying our play?
Or was it her way of saying, "There is joy in rain and sun, if you look for it"?
I don't know. I look back and I remember twirling, thinking about that moment, just that moment, where I was free from the worries and troubles that beset me almost every day. I had my eyes closed.
I wanted to feel the rain. Really feel it. As if it could wash away some of the sorrow, some of the angst, and bring me a day without fear.
"Yes," I remember whispering. "This will wash it away. All of it. All of the pain and fear." I wanted to get soaking wet, through my clothes, into my soul, into my heart. To feel it cleansed and whole - because it was a foreign experience to me - being whole.
Still, I wanted it. I wanted to feel the way my friends felt. I wanted to have happiness in my life, to not walk around cringing at every loud sound. I wanted to be in the moment, not always afraid of the next moment, or the one after.
I felt the rain, so cool, and so wet. I felt it throughout my body, plastering my hair to my face, dripping off my fingers as I turned and turned with my arms out wide, never fearing I would stumble or crash into the tree in front of my house.
I felt the rain like a blanket. A blanket that was comforting. It almost seemed to caress my skin like a mother stroking a child.
I imagined that, a mother stroking her child, saying, "You're my precious baby," in those soothing tones mothers have.
I held on to that image -pretending I was that baby and that I had a mother who would croon to me like that. Even now, at the ripe old age of 14 it would have been so wonderful.
It would never happen, of course. It never had and never would.
And so, I dropped my arms and opened my eyes, and as suddenly as it came, the rain was gone.
I turned to my friends who were still giddy over the rainbow. "Did you see it!" someone said. "It was so big."
"I have never seen such a beautiful rainbow," someone else said.
"I didn't see it," I said. I looked hard, to see if there was a trace of it left, just a little bit of red or yellow. But nothing. Nothing was there but sun and the raincloud passing overhead, off to other neighborhoods.
"Aw, you shoulda opened your eyes," one of my friends admonished me. "It was so beautiful."
I sighed. "I'll see the next one," I said. With a shrug.
I wish I had seen the rainbow. I wish I had opened my eyes sooner.
I wish I had known, back then, that the rain couldn't wash me clean and take away any of the hurt. No one could do that but me.
It took a long time to learn that.
A very long time.
I have seen many rainbows since, even double rainbows, but I miss that rainbow. I think of it and that day and there is fondness there because we did run out laughing into that rain. But there is sorrow, also.
Sorrow for lost moments. I don't fret too much over it. What would be the use?
After that rain, that day, my mother told me I wasn't allowed to have my friends over anymore. What would the neighbors think?
I was allowed to go to their houses, occasionally, but they were no longer welcome at my home.
Because they made me laugh. And they offered me rainbows.
Today, I find joy in rain and sun and do my best to never miss a rainbow. And every time I see one, I feel connected to it. I feel that day again. I laugh, not always out loud, and I whisper, "You are whole. You have always been whole." And the colors of the rainbow validate me.
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