The rain in May falls mainly on the pained


So it’s midnight and I’m at this sports bar nursing this beer for as long as I can, waiting for a break in the storm so I can make a mad dash to my campsite for the night. When I realize there ISN’T going to be a break in the storm. So I pack up my stuff and plunge out into the rain.

It’s POURING rain. The third day of a four-day storm. And I’m completely unprepared to deal with it. It’s the LAST thing I was expecting. A full-blown middle-of-the-winter type storm at the end of May. After surviving five months of winter storms it’s the LAST thing I was expecting this close to June. And it’s like one of those double-shock endings at the end of a horror movie. After experiencing horror through the entire movie, the horror is finally over and you finally can relax. And then they hit you with the double-whammy shock ending.

I race to the campus where I’ve got some blankets stashed in the bushes — periodically stopping to curse the gods at the top of my lungs. To get to my stuff I’ve got to walk down this steep incline that is covered with mud and slippery as ice. Of course I lose my balance and fall into the mud, slathering the side of my jacket and pants with mud. I let out a scream of anguish and rage that they could probably hear all the way to Oakland.

My blankets are stashed in one garbage bag — in the winter I always double and triple-bag them to keep them dry but I wasn’t prepared for this storm. So of course they’re soaking wet now. I stagger to a nearby doorway — cozy and well-hidden — crawl into my soggy blankets and immediately fall asleep.

Have this weird nightmare. I’m in anguish and I’m trying to explain to my friends that the only relief from my psychological despair is to get drunk (brief reprieve from my nightmare as I spend some time petting this beautiful multi-colored purple and green cat — a recurring theme in my dreams).

Wake up around 7. It’s just getting light. And, unbelievably, it’s STILL pouring rain. The wind is pushing the rain all over my stuff. It’s like waking up from one nightmare into another nightmare.

I pack up all my stuff. Head back up the muddy incline. Slip again, smashing and crushing one side of my umbrella. So the morning is off to a wonderful start.

Stagger down the trail. Hear a car approaching me from behind. And I know instinctively. It’s a cop car. The cop car passes by me slowly, the cop eyeing me with suspicion the whole way (sometimes it seems like I’m acting out scenes from the futuristic novel BRAVE NEW WORLD).

It’s summer break so all the buildings on the campus are locked. But then I get an incredible break. As I pass Wheeler Auditorium I notice a well-dressed woman peering out of one of the front doors. She’s probably waiting for a friend, preparing for an up-coming event. “Could I use the restroom?” I ask. “Sure,” she says. And just like that I’m inside a nice warm and dry building.

I go to the first floor men’s room. Wash all the mud off the side of my jacket and pants. Then I go back out and loudly shut the front door (so the woman will hear it and think I left the building) and then sneak down to the basement men’s room and spend an hour peacefully reorganizing myself. I even shave and trim my goatee and shampoo my hair so that I look reasonably presentable to my fellow humans.

As I leave the building I noticed it’s finally stopped raining. And I have that “the-worst-is over” feeling. So now I’m thinking a hot cup of coffee and a fresh apple turnover at the local bakery would really hit the spot. And I’m feeling strangely exhilarated. And just mad enough to be looking forward to experiencing another crazy day on the planet Earth.

Against all odds, the sun actually peered out from just behind all the dark clouds. And apparently, life will go on.


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