The Uncommon App: Singing in the Lifeboats

Graphic by Isabella Xie

By Rebecca Williams

Class of 2015

“Are you walking home, too?”

I nodded.

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.