It rained today.
I like rainy days, the darkness of them and the charge in the air. I like the smell. If I am at home I like to put on a raincoat and plastic pants and rubber boots and run around with my daughters, clearing gutters and splashing in puddles.
Late this morning I had a business meeting with a man I had not met. I wore a suit. I asked him if he would like a coffee and I stopped at Café Leva, with my umbrella in one hand and my briefcase in the other, to buy him a latté. Since I was there, I bought myself a coffee too.
The briefcase required a hand, the umbrella required a hand, and the coffees required one hand each. I did not have all of those hands so I put the briefcase over my shoulder and stacked the coffees.
For a year I lived in the northwest of France, on the Atlantic Ocean. Many of the days, in my city, were a fierce combination of wind and rain that made umbrellas irrelevant. Today was a day like that. I held the pointless umbrella up but the rain was vertical. The front of me was soaked. And I mean soaked, like I had stopped on my way to the meeting to dive in the river.
I stopped to shift arms, because the briefcase is heavy, but there was nowhere to put the coffees. So I tried to do it à la Cirque du Soleil and the top coffee, my coffee, fell on my right shoe and burst open. It was a NICE HOT AMERICANO.
Now I had to bend down to pick up my rubbish. I no longer cared about the rain so I held the umbrella in the crook of my arm and it swung off to the side of me like I was a sad mime, here to annoy you. With every gust it spun and slapped me in the face. With each jolt, the coffee in the remaining cup spilled out on to my hand.
When I finally reached the garbage can and the door I tried to close the umbrella because even though I do not believe in an omnipotent deity I suspect an open umbrella indoors could lead to spiritual misfortune. And I dropped the leather briefcase in a mud puddle.
Ten years ago I would have kicked the briefcase. I would have thrown the remaining cup of hot coffee at a bird and I would have cussed at the bird for being so damn fast. Then I would have felt terrible for my actions. I would have apologized to passersby, but I would have stuttered so they would not understand. But they would not WANT to understand because I would be a soaking wet, cussing, coffee-throwing, briefcase-kicking maniac.
Luckily I am old now, well into the time of seeing absurdity in everything. So I laughed, picked up my muddy briefcase, and carried the latté to the man on the third floor.
“Is it raining?” he said, when I arrived.
“No, no, no. It’s gorgeous.”