Thursday, May 3, 2012

Night Rain

"Why does the rain make us feel so romantic and strange? Maybe it's the fact that we are unnatural spectators of it, from inside our homes, and it is a reminder that we have the power to live our whole lives like this, if we choose. It's not the smell of fertile ground kicked up by raindrops, or the slick leaves, or the way we must amplify our voices to be heard over this larger presence. It's the power of the rooftop that makes us want to fuck under it."

Willow posted that quote by the author Amelia Gray yesterday. Tonight, in the interminable part of the night, it is raining hard, pelting not the roof but the air conditioning units at our fifth floor windows, which approximates the sound Amelia Gray describes. My husband is long asleep. My daughter was up until late stirring lemon curd for the lemon meringue cupcakes she will take to school for one of her best friends' birthday today, the friend is born the same day I am, which means I am getting cupcakes too. She plans to wake early to do the meringue swirls. "If you leave egg white frosting out," she said, "it wants to turn back to egg whites. I have to make it fresh in the morning." It still fascinates me that she talks this way.

Today was supposed to be her senior skip day. For some reason the teachers at her school have been fighting to deny this right of passage, with letters to parents and threats of detention to seniors who skip. Finally, they got wise and scheduled a whole bunch of events for today. The one that is bringing my girl into school is the year-end performance by her theater kids, the ones she has been working with after school. "I love those kids," she said. "They wouldn't understand if I wasn't there to applaud them." So she is going in. But she has the first two periods free, so she is going in late, doing what she calls a modified skip, so she can make her meringue fresh and fluffy for her friend's birthday. Yes, mine too. 

The problem with birthdays is we think the day should be somehow more special than other days, even though it is just another work day, another school day, full of the same mundane demands and people you interact with all day who you don't even bother to tell it's your birthday. The problem with birthdays is you look back and survey past ones, the good ones and the lost causes too, the years when you were in your prime and didn't understand how much you would miss those days later. The problem with birthdays is being up at 3:29 a.m., alone in the world, listening to the rain, brooding on the way life shrinks from its skin, the slow decline, the losses. 

Reminds me of my mother quoting Shakespeare, inexactly I suspect. "Into each life, a little rain must fall," she would say serenely. Reminds me, too, of the positive psychology canon presently making the rounds in the pages of women's magazines, the one that says happiness is a choice, a simple decision to shift your perspective, to decide to see the gifts that are ours, rather than those other things we yearn for. A limber and unbreakable body. More whimsy. A different sort of brain chemistry. Tonight, I am choosing melancholy, I suppose, sinking into it and letting it be. I hope to make a different choice as the day goes on. Happy birthday, me. 


  1. I hope your birthday is filled with sweet surprises and cupcakes in the morning sounds like a start to the day.

  2. Happy birthday, let the sun come out later, will you?

  3. Happy Happy Birthday:)
    Hope your day & your cupcakes were wonderful
    Love Gab xxxxx

  4. Happy birthday! Sounds like you need a skip day yourself. We could use rain here in bone dry atlanta. i miss the rain. and it's got nothing to do with sex. i just like to hear the rain and smell it and watch it falling.

  5. Happy Birthday Angella. Mine come round too fast these days. It's as if a year nowadays consists of only 150 days (or less).

  6. Happy birthday, you.
    I, for one, am quite glad you were born.
    I'd like to add that those who tell us that happiness is a choice have never lived in my brain. And quite frankly, I wish they would for a day or two.

  7. Happy birthday, you. I trust your beautiful family to make it a happy day for you. :)

  8. Thinking of you on your Special Day. You sit back, I'll be happy for the both of us!
    Happy Birthday!
    Your Friend, mark

  9. Happy birthday. I love your description of rain which makes me content as I wait for our rain to being. Wishing you whimsy and cupcakes and tender graces today and all of the year.

  10. Oh happy happy happy birthday, my friend and earth sign sister! :)

    Hope you have a lovely day - today and every day.

  11. Happy Birthday, beautiful lady :)

  12. Elizabeth, cupcakes in the morning were indeed lovely. thank you!

    Sabine, I shall. I did. Thank you.

    Gabs, they were. nice to see you.

    Kristin, a skip day sounds like just the thing, but i have a few necessary ones coming up (my niece's graduation, visiting my mom) so i'd better hang in, i suppose.

    Cro, it sure does seem as if the world has speeded up! how did i get to be this age? i don't feel it inside.

    Ms moon, ditto! the thing that bothers me a bit about the positive psychology philosophy is that is sort of says if you're depressed it's your own damn fault. which it generally isn't. hugs.

    ellen, they did indeed do just that! love.

    mark, be happy for me. i love that. that makes me happy.

    Rebecca, dear one, whimsy and tender graces could be the secret to it all. why not? love.

    NOLA darling, thank you! enjoy your time in NOLA! haha! xo

    Steph(anie), thank you, friend! It's always nice to see you here.