In the Wake of the Storm

“After the rain, the sun will reappear. … After the pain, the joy will still be here.”

– Walt Disney Company

The last time I visited, I wrote about rain. A normal rainy day, that was, and this past week has been both the same and different, as Hurricane Harvey dumped so much rainfall over my home that every highway in Houston, the fourth-largest city in America, had to be shut down. Fortunately I don’t live within the city but an hour south—though I drive to Houston three to four days a week for work/college classes, so it is home, too—and, even though I live closer to the coast, Harvey didn’t affect me nearly as much as it did my friends north of me, and while my heart aches for all that they’ve had to go through, each one is safe and that’s all that really matters.

Here in Lake Jackson, Tropical Storm Harvey rained and whipped winds around for days, with intermittent periods without rain. My street—or, I should say, Dylan’s parents’ street—doesn’t really flood at all, so we were fortunate to not be trapped in the house—seven people and six dogs—though there wasn’t much of anywhere to go, anyway. We fared well, and I made a quick trip to my house in Angleton yesterday to find it just as I left it (albeit with an excessive amount of lovebugs in my bathroom, and I still have no idea how they got in, but, you know, not exactly a problem).

But today is the first day in a week that I’ve woken up to blue skies and sunshine, and it is a beautiful and very welcome change. The upside to all the rain, too, is that it ushered in cooler weather, and the humidity is down, and a breeze waves the tree branches at me as if in greeting. The air is full of birdsong and cicadas, so it actually feels like the transition from summer to fall, and the dogs can lay out and soak up the sunshine again.

I’ve been having a lot of issues lately with the faith I was raised in, and I’m not going to go into that, but I do think of the story of Noah’s ark now, and how at the end of the flood that covered the world, there was a rainbow. I don’t see any rainbows out now, though admittedly I haven’t stepped out of the shade far enough to look for one, but this beautiful day is more than enough to make me believe that—Biblical connotations aside—after every storm in every life, there will come a new day.

A friend in Houston has even told me that “Everything is great over here! The sun is even shining!!” so, while I know that everything is not perfect there and probably won’t be for a long time to come, I want to be cautiously hopeful. I’ve seen so many reports of Houstonians, and others from all over the country, banding together in the wake of this natural disaster, and that’s even more beautiful than this day. I hope they can be cautiously hopeful and optimistic, too. Because today is a new day, and another is on its way.

Of a rainy, golden afternoon…

It’s not raining anymore.

I wasn’t actually aware that it rained at all this afternoon, because over the sounds of the TV I was watching in Dylan’s room and the family I could hear in the front room, I couldn’t have heard the rain unless I stepped outside to greet it.

But right now, on the back patio after the dogs have eaten, it’s like a tranquil afterglow. The sun hasn’t set yet but bathes the neighborhood in a soft golden light, caught in the beads of water that cling to the porch screen. It’s so quiet that I can hear where the water drips to the concrete, and I welcome it as a sound of companionship. The rain has made it muggy, humid—or maybe that’s just south Texas in the summer—but a refreshingly cool breeze carries the leftover scent of rain and of earth, two elements, wrapped in a third, that we can’t live without.

I used to dislike whenever it rained. I’m not quite sure when that changed—maybe whenever I read a quote somewhere about rain being the writer’s lullaby. Now, more often than not, I wish for days I might be able to spend in my bedroom, warmly lit by the lamp next to my bed, writing, with a cup of coffee at hand and rain thundering down outside my window.

On days when I do have to leave the house, which is also more often than not, and commute an hour to Houston, rain is not quite as welcome, and when I checked the weather earlier this week it was supposed to be rainy all week long. I don’t think it rained at all yesterday, and today, it didn’t look like it was going to. But it did.

I’m kind of glad for it.

8.3.2017

My dear Dylan,

To some extent, I don’t even know what to say. I actually have a post written for you already, but it doesn’t feel like it’s right anymore. I improvised this morning with breakfast, so I guess I’m going to improvise now, too, and see what happens. That’s all life really is, anyway, isn’t it? Merely a day to day improvisation…🤔 (Insert here a comment from you about me being philosophical and existential again…)

I’m glad that we got to have breakfast together today, and that you were able to relax a little before going to work. It is your birthday, after all, it’s your special day!

I don’t need to tell you I love you for you to know, but I will anyway. (I kind of just did.) I don’t need to tell you that I’m proud of you, because you know that, but sometimes you just need to hear it, and I know you have had a lot on your mind lately. Which is understandable…a lot has happened in the past year. Let’s look…

Definitely the biggest and most ongoing change is the one with pretty brown eyes, four legs, and a tail…and she’s…I’d like to say she’s stretched out at my feet while I’m in your chair, but the truth is she was here and now I have no idea when she snuck out or where exactly she went (though I’d put money on the backyard). Typical. I know we adopted her closer to the end of July last year than the beginning of August, but it still counts, and you and I both know that no matter what, you wouldn’t give her up for anything. Nor would she you, honestly.

After that, everything else doesn’t seem as detailed or…there doesn’t seem to be as much to it, because your (our) emotions are wrapped up in her, and I can just simply list everything else and then step away from it, more detached. (Does that make sense to you? I’m not sure if it’s one of those things that makes more sense in my head than it does out of it… I’m sorry. I’m feeling a little out of it, and I had a cup of coffee, but I don’t think it’s enough to make me feel 100% better today.) Still…

You…

  • earned and walked for your Bachelor’s degree
  • sold one car (finally)
  • bought another car that’s fully paid for
  • landed a full-time job, with benefits

…and I know that you’re still not completely where you probably need to be, definitely where you would like to be, in your life, but you have come quite a ways. And I’m just going to leave that at that—though I do hope you can stop thinking about everything else just long enough to enjoy the rest of your birthday. Even though you’re at work now, it’s still your day.

I hope I was able to make this morning special for you. I wasn’t sure about improvising, and I think you know that I probably never am. Because I always want it to be perfect for you, but maybe the perfection lives in the effort and not in the result. In the day to day effort (struggle) of everything.

Together.

❤︎ Happy birthday, honey. ❤︎