By Rebecca Williams
Class of 2015
“Are you walking home, too?”
Carter slung the strap of his backpack over his shoulder and leaned on the front door, stepping out into the rain. I followed him through the door and the two of us began our trek home. I glanced at my cast mate as he flipped the hood of his sweatshirt over his head, obscuring his face. We walked in silence. I watched his Sperrys, mesmerized by the way each step landed deliberately, dancing deftly around each puddle.
I tilted my head back to gaze at the charcoal sky but was forced to shut my eyes. Plump drops of rain splashed onto my forehead and tumbled down my cheeks. I shook my head and looked down again, wiping my eyes and smearing my black and blue stage makeup. Post-lab questions, three problem sets, thirty pages of A Tale of Two Cities, a research essay, Spanish grammar, and a job application awaited me. I tried to keep in step with Carter, but stress sat on my shoulders and clutched my ankles. I loved theater, but rehearsal meant that I rarely got home before eight o’clock. The sun had slipped off to sleep, but my sleep that night would be short.
A car turned onto Olde Field Road and its headlights swept over us. Thanks to Mr. Bouchal’s photo class, I had recently developed a set of photographer’s eyes. These new lenses enabled me to see beauty even when there seemed to be none. I admired how magically the car’s tail lights illuminated each raindrop.
I looked skyward and laughed out loud. Drops of water splattered my face and neck and dripped down into my clothing, already heavy with rain water. I jumped into the middle of the vacant street. Though I would like to believe that what happened next was a collage of sensual hip swaying and complex footwork, the truth is that it was simply a mess of sporadic twitching and tossing of limbs. Spontaneity turned my feet the way a spring turns the ballerina in a music box. Gratitude cascaded down my chest and little droplets of “I am loving life” flew off the ends of my fingers.
I paused for a moment and looked at Carter. He had flipped the hood off his face, revealing that his stage makeup was now a black smudge on his neck. He stood for just a moment, frozen in bewilderment. Spotlit by the yellow street lights, I leaped and twirled my way down the deserted street, careful to step into the puddles. Carter strolled alongside me, hands buried deep in his pockets. When I peeked at him, I noticed that he wore a goofy sideways smirk.
Soon, we reached our parting site. I watched Carter dash across the sparkling pavement until he had safely reached the other side, and I continued my journey home. Though I had tons of homework, it wasn’t my jaded “I’m home” that greeted my mother when I walked in the side door. I hugged her, dampening her once-dry pajamas. She held me at arm’s length to take it in: dripping stage makeup, wacky grin, and all. She pulled me into a tight embrace again and laughed.
Voltaire wrote, “Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” I don’t forget. I am lucky that I find happiness in the raindrops when life feels like a storm. Gene Kelly sings in the rain, Voltaire in the lifeboats, and I dance until my makeup melts away.