New York City, April 30, 2014


★★★★ Raindrops streaked the windows, and behind them were occasional snowflakes plunging by. The first-grader’s sneakers were on before anyone remembered the existence of the rain boots, then remembered that they were up on a shelf in the clothes closet. The rain was light, at the moment, and the first-grader agreed he’d rather walk quickly through it without an umbrella than slowly with an umbrella. A steady file of parents and children arrived late, their morning routines in damp disarray. By late morning the rain was no longer light; it spilled through the scaffold outside the apartment lobby before a hood could be raised against it. Tiny choppy wavelets blew across a street puddle. A woman wrestled with an inside-out golf umbrella, which probably served her right. Rain was splatting down into the subway tracks where the sunbeams had been falling days before. Water drained from the roof of a UPS truck and fountained from an outlet midway down its rear corner. Cars and trucks and taxis were gunning their engines or forcing their way through crosswalks, as if they were the ones who weren’t waterproof, as if the cold wind were hurting steel and glass. A delivery truck, a bottled-drinking-water delivery truck, threw itself forward to block the box and the crosswalk together. The rain accumulated and accumulated, grand in its relentlessness. The landing of the subway stairs was flooded; the crosswalks were flooded. Around Times Square, in the late afternoon, a few fans still huddled outside a stage door. Umbrellas clustered outside a ramen shop by 10th Avenue, where the umbrella-holders waited for the CLOSED sign to flip to OPEN at 5. In the time it took to get through two shared deep bowls of soup, the two better-grade bodega umbrellas, hooked side by side over the edge of an umbrella bucket, had come unhooked and separated. After much rummaging, the second turned up, completely sodden, at the bottom of the other umbrella bucket. Out in the unending downpour, the umbrella handle thrummed with the vibrations of the rainfall. The avenue was gridlocked, the traffic more maddened than before. Nothing made sense but the rain. It was pouring rain down inside the 50th Street station, on the platform. The ground and street above were a discredited notion. Sneakers were saturated, pants soggy to the knee. At home, once the waterlogged things were finally stripped and cast off, wet footprints traced the route into the bedroom, all five toes distinct.