Walking in the Rain
I saw you walking along the side of the road.
The rain had been falling steadily for about 20 minutes, somewhere between a drizzle and an outright downpour, like the bloated clouds were choosing the perfect moment to lighten their load.
Wipers lazily swoosh-swooshing across my windshield, I drove toward home, already annoyed about the rain-soaked task that ridding my car’s trunk of groceries would surely become. Already dreading what the plump raindrops, now increasing in frequency, would do to the hair that I’d actually taken the time to straighten that morning.
As I rounded the corner, I saw you.
Slowly plodding along, holding a sopping piece of cardboard over your head. You weren’t frantically dashing to shelter or hopping over puddles like the shoppers I’d just seen in the parking lot.
And then it hit me: you weren’t in a rush.
You didn’t have anywhere to go. No dry car to get into, no home beckoning you with towels waiting. No raincoat to wrap tightly around you.
I don’t know any of this for sure, but I assumed in that moment that you would spend the rest of the night in the rain. That perhaps a bus stop shelter or a building with an overhang was your destination – but you would be drenched by the time you made it there on foot. So why rush?
In that moment I had another thought. One of those thoughts that bloom in your heart rather than in your mind. I knew that I had to give you my umbrella. And so I did.
I waited for the green arrow so that I could make a U-turn and get back to you, suddenly overcome with fear that you would somehow disappear before the traffic light changed colors. But then I remembered that your slow footsteps were no match for my car’s engine. And again, I remembered that you weren’t in a hurry to reach your destination: anywhere and nowhere.
I pulled up next to you and rolled down my window. You looked at me curiously, unsure of my intentions. But I was sure enough for the both of us.
“Sir,” I said to you, as you remember. “Here, take my umbrella.”
You reached out your hand slowly and for one heartbreaking moment, I realized that you expected this to be a big joke. That I’d yank the umbrella from your grasp, yell at you to get a job and speed off. What have you seen in your life? I wondered. What have you lived through to make you wary of a young woman with a purple umbrella? Who made you feel like you weren’t worthy of a stranger’s help?
I continued to hold it out to you, wishing that I had more to give than this one simple thing. But when you took the umbrella from my grasp and grinned, I knew that this one simple thing was enough. Your cracked lips peeled back to reveal missing teeth, but to me, please know that your smile was like the sun breaking through the clouds. Beautiful and beaming. It’d been a long time since I’d seen such joy, unashamed and pure, over such a small gesture.
“Thank you,” you said to me.
“You’re welcome. Stay dry now. God bless.” And then I continued down the road.
I was stuck at the same red light again. But this time, instead of impatiently waiting for it to change, I watched you. I watched the purple umbrella moving down the road, heading south toward anywhere and nowhere.
But at least, for that leg of your journey, you were dry. And my heart was full.
The Girl With the Purple Umbrella
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This post was written by Megan Hodge exclusively for BonBon Break Media LLC.