I have an amazing online writing group. There are four of us: strong women and mothers and writers and dreamers. We come from all over the world—our words travel thousands of miles each week to be read, cared for, gently critiqued, questioned, edited, and encouraged. These women are single-handedly keeping my writing life alive through quarantine; I couldn’t do it without them.
We decided at the beginning of all of this that as long as we were going to be staying home, surrounded by kids—some older, one newborn, the rest somewhere in between—that one of us would send a prompt each week for everyone to reflect upon, write about, and share. We have a Voxer group, and we read our pieces aloud whenever we get to them. It’s so comforting to hear their voices, soak in their words, learn their experiences. There is no pressure to finish, no judgment on what is written, no rules—only encouragement, creativity, and a safe space to be ourselves.
I wasn’t planning on sharing these short pieces, because they aren’t edited and they seem a little random, but then I thought that it might be really important someday to have this time documented by my own words and thoughts about what we’re going through.
Back in April, the prompt was rain. I woke up today to rain pounding on the windows, and I felt like it would be a good day to share this one. Here goes:
Where I grew up in the desert, rainstorms come in like a fury and pound the earth for a few hard minutes before leaving again, the cracked dirt saturated and runoff unable to soak into the parched ground. Rain in the desert smells like wet dust and kept promises to quench a dry and thirsty land, the entirety of the ecosystem sighing in relief that water has finally come. Sun showers are common, rain falling in sheets along with bright rays peeking through the clouds. And there’s almost always a rainbow, glowing down like a reminder that the next drought cannot last forever.
The after is the best, though. Grass turns greener and flowers stand up straighter and wild animals come out of their home. They’ve been given a gift and they know not to take it for granted.
Here in North Texas, the rain comes and the rain stays. Sometimes for days. Normally, I love a good rainstorm. The booming of thunder, cracking of lightning, and big fat raindrops on the roof create a symphony of sorts. Sometimes I go out on the patio and stand under the covered pergola, feeling the pitter-patter of the rain inside my heart, taking in big gulps of life from the wet air. Rain here smells clean and fresh, like cut grass and wildflowers. Rainy days give me excuses to stay inside with a good book and a soft blanket and a hot cup of chai tea. They give me permission to cuddle longer, leave dishes until later, take the rest my weary soul needs. Normally, rain feels like comfort and freedom and sustenance.
Now, though, the rain feels like a relentless jailer, one who is keeping us locked inside for days on end. Now, like a spoiled toddler unhappy with any circumstances life throws, I resent the rain. It means we cannot play out back. It means we cannot ride bikes in the streets and wave to neighbors from six feet away. It means no after-dinner walks with the dog, holding hands with my strong and handsome husband, watching the sun slowly fall as the day comes to an end. It means all the running and the screeching and the laughing and the fighting are done inside, with a roof and an echo. The clouds are what really kill me, though. For this reason, I know I could never survive in the Pacific Northwest. I need the sunlight, for its warmth and its Vitamin D and also for its cheeriness. Without it, the darkness of night blends into days and I feel disoriented. Am I supposed to wake or stay sleeping? When there is no end to the rain, how are we supposed to see what was able to grow while it was coming down?
I have this vision that plays and replays in my head, when this quarantine is lifted, when we can finally leave our homes without fear of this virus. In my vision, we walk outside, our arms lifted to the heavens, our faces turned toward the sun, giving thanks for its healing. We have to blink our eyes, adjust to a new world yet again, its brilliance and vibrance. We are smiling and laughing, but also forever changed on the inside.
I know the rain won’t last forever–even though the forecast is currently showing otherwise–just like I know this quarantine won’t last forever. And I have to wonder: what visible changes will be evident after this rain? After this quarantine? Are families being torn apart or strengthened? Are addictions being magnified or beaten down? Is anxiety being enhanced or lessened? Are hearts being hardened in selfishness or opened in kindness?
What kind of world will we walk out to when it is safe to leave?
Thanks for reading, and as always—peace and love to you and yours from me and mine.