You should never put a window in the laundry room. Unexpectedly you will have to choose: the great immensity of the wild outdoors; the calm clutter of your daily life.
Tap, tap, tap. Raindrops like small pebbles on the glass; calling me for an illicit daylight tryst.
I put the laundry down and went to it.
No hoodie; no heavy clothes for me. After days of heat, the wind is refreshing and the rain sweet and inviting; a thousand cold little kisses at once. I shiver, and start running.
The wind sweeps my bangs out of my ponytail. The first casualty of the hour; the first scrap of civilized life, falling, discarded in the street.
My glasses come off next, tucked into a pocket, zipped away. The rain is too heavy; I would rather run impaired than pause to keep wiping them.
Here I am; bare-faced, ponytail dripping. Running, running, running down the street, becoming more and more my human animal with every step.
“It’s raining,” an old man calls to me, concerned on my behalf. “You’ll catch a cold.”
But I am feral; the rain turns to steam where it touches me, and in that moment, I don’t remember what “cold” means.
Running, running, running. Turn onto the main street; now I am running in the road, towards the traffic. I am more alive than them. I am more than a silly person hiding in my car, cowering from the rain. I am a human animal, running.
Off the road. Into the eucalyptus grove, the massive wind-tunnel of tall trees. There is no pavement here, only mud and sand, and as if the rain weren’t heavy enough, fat drops spill from the leaves and land squarely on the back of my neck and snake their way inside my shirt. Soaked at this point; my wet clothes start to chafe uncomfortably against my skin. I’m ready to drop being human at all. I pull off my shirt. Running, running, running in my sports bra and shorts.
I’m nothing more than a wild animal in the woods.
I’m nothing more than living.
My ponytail drips all the way to the small of my back.
Ahhh… that’s cold. Now I remember what “cold” is…
A thought of “home” rises in my mind; warm, blankets; a hot drink; a hot shower.
Within a single second, I want it, and here I am, miles away from all of it…
Is it just me, or is it raining heavier now? The wind that had seemed “bracing” when I ran into it before now feels like a thousand hands holding me back. My foot slips in the mud and I feel a muscle tighten where it shouldn’t have – ah, great. Great, great, great.
Running, running, running.
I take the ponytail out. There’s no use pretending it serves any purpose anymore. My loose hair lashes on my shoulders like a cat o’ nine, and pushes me forward.
At the crossroads, a family in their car stares at me and my disheveled mien. I look right back and wish I was in MY car, and laugh at my own hypocrisy as they pull away.
Last stretch; I have to choose between the longer, winding path, or the short, direct, uphill one.
Uphill it is. I’m miserable. I just want to be home already.
It’s raining so hard I can’t even open my eyes anymore. Just running blind. There’s nothing romantic or glorious about this. I’m just a drenched animal, dumb enough to fall for the rain’s sweet lies.
My thighs are burning. My sides are hurting. Some guy in a pick-up truck honks his horn at me; thank you, random cheerleader.
Home, where I stand on the porch and hesitate – just a moment.
… I hope it’s still raining tomorrow.
Aemorniel Shelley was born and raised in the wilds of Wales, and since the age of fifteen has wandered wherever the land’s voice takes her, seldom carrying more than her music and her stories. She has a deep love for the ocean, for the way the sun feels on her hair, for the voice of the wind in the trees, and for the way her feet feel when bare in the sand and the soil of the earth. Currently based in Los Angeles, she is learning every day how to connect with an urban landscape whose roots go far beneath the pavement and cement of its current human occupants, and whose heart beats slowly but surely in the pulse of the Pacific ocean, and the heat of the desert sands.