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I woke up to the sound of rain pounding down on the terracotta shingles on the roof. They said the storm was coming, but they’ve been lying all summer, so I didn’t believe them until the first roar of thunder at 7 am. I was supposed to go to lunch, but as I sat in the darkness of the morning and the garden outside began to flood, I felt the dread of having to pull myself through the downpours with a flimsy umbrella and hiding in a crowded restaurant with tourists in sticky plastic ponchos. I rescheduled for a day when we could stroll in the sun without a time limit, without the umbrellas, and then went back to bed.

Two PM and the rain is still pouring but I need to brave the storm anyway. I start reaching into my closet for options. Boots – or my feet will be soaked, my sneakers ruined. Pants – I guess, because I don’t feel like getting a skirt/shorts and tights ensemble together right now. But if the sun comes out it’ll be 80F immediately and I’ll look like I’m dressed for the snow…but if I keep on a tank top and don’t bring a jacket, I’ll look like I lost my marbles if another thunderstorm comes through the city. 

The air is thick with water but I feel confident in my clothing choices as I walk down my street under my umbrella.

The water came too much too fast and rivers flow down the sidewalks and into the gutters. Puddles pool in the dips of the roads, the walkways flood in Piazza Liberta because of the leaves building up by the sewer grates. I stop walking and grab a stick to pull away some of the leaves, and watch the water surge forward. I want to stand there all day. I want to splash my boots in the puddles and dig my hands into the mud and the sticks and the leaves creating little rivers that surge forward through the mess. I want to forget about my responsibilities today and play in the rain.

The whole crew of kids in our neighborhood would make an afternoon out of it. The summer storms would come, and we were the generation with parents that weren’t afraid of us getting wet, and they’d throw us outside into the warm rain, or maybe right after to let us chase rainbows – barefoot and barely clothed. We’d all crouch on the sides of the road at the curb where the water flowed and we’d dam up the streams with rocks and sticks and handfuls of grass, and then release them, watching the water run down the streets and cascade through the square holes of the sewer grates. We’d make little toy boats and sail them down next to the sidewalks, we’d race floating leaves from street to street. 

But I was a thirty-year-old woman standing in the middle of a piazza in a city where getting touched by rain is a terrible tragedy. So I kept walking and hopped over the smaller puddles and skirted around the larger flooded parts, and I went to pick up a three-year-old that I hope gets to play in the rain someday. By the time I reached the school, the clouds had cleared and the sun was out and it was suddenly 80F and I was absolutely overdressed, and we walked home watching the puddles dry up on the cobblestones.