I am sitting at our old kitchen table, which I know use as my writing desk, watching the slate gray clouds roll in from wherever they last were. Thunder rumbles closer and closer and I’ve seen three lightening strikes so far.
I’m so glad I decided to work from home today! Sometimes I forget I have this lovely option, this option to stay home and write, instead of dragging my tail into the office five days a week. I made the decision for today out of a fit of pique yesterday, when it turned out not one piece of office equipment was working, from the many printers on our network to the fax machines to the office email. When I felt blood lust in my heart for Mike the IT guy, who told me our department was in queue and he would get to us, I decided perhaps it would be best to take day and clear a couple articles off my “to write” list from the comfort of my own home.
I slept in an hour and a half later than I normally would, awaking refreshed and ready to run. As soon as I opened the front door gusts of hot air hit me, and I knew this run would be more like slogging than jogging, and indeed, every breath I took felt like I was sucking in water and I started sweating during my warm up walk. I can be what my mom calls “heat sensitive” and what my dad calls “puke sick” in too-warm temperatures and I worried a bit about whether I would end up vomiting by the side of the road, but like it usually happens, when I push through a mental barrier I found myself totally okay on the other side of it.
My suburb was oddly empty today. I crossed paths with the neighbor S. has nicknamed the General, so much time does he spend patrolling the hedge between our yards, making sure we haven’t planted any unapproved flowers or something else equally deviant, and I stopped to pet his dog. Other than that, I found myself virtually alone on quiet streets, passing yard after yard of dried up grass. I’m not sure if its because of higher gas prices or what, but nobody was running their sprinklers to water their lawns, and eco-friendly choice I heartily approve of (I’m politically against sprinklers) but between the heat, the hot gusts of air and the lack of life I found myself feeling oddly discombobulated. This must be what the end of the world feels like, I thought. I recalled an equally hot day the first year I lived in Pittsburgh. It was mid- October and earlier, cooler weather had already started the tree leaves turning. Hot winds blew golden leaves off trees and down Negley Avenue, the sun burned bright and high in the sky. I waited and waited for a bus that never showed up, and I swear not one car came down the road the entire time I waited. The whole situation felt eerie and finally I caved in and walked back to my apartment to get my car.
It’s funny, now that I think about it – I can remember many, many hot days with pretty good recall, but very few cold ones. Perhaps that’s because I’ve experienced so many winter days in my lifetime.
Anyway. During my run, I caught that flicker of light…you know what I’m talking about? That flicker, that comes when thunder storms are on their way. I don’t know how to describe it, exactly…I know I’ve seen the flicker countless times as a child, when playing in the lake or jumping on the trampoline in my backyard. The sky doesn’t immediately turn gray, nor does the air suddenly cool. It’s like the kind of flicker that precedes all of the lights going out…the deep blue of the sky suddenly lightens a bit, and it’s hard to find the sun that was blinding you only moments before. The flicker means rain is on its way, eventually.
And now here I sit, a draft of my first article complete, sated from running and a strawberry/apricot/plain yogurt/honey/cinnamon smoothie, watching the clouds come. And I am so happy I got to see the flicker, and feel the hot air on my face, and plod along the way I do. I’m not sure there’s much better, on a steamy summer day in a chain of steamy summer days, than to do good work and watch the rain come in.