Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Night Drizzle

Outside the library, a stiff wind blows and the rain drizzles down your neck. The flag on the flagpole shivers along with you as you hurry towards your destination. Cars drift by, each its own little world of warmth and dryness. A few late stragglers huddle together at the bus stop across the street, and you silently commiserate  as you wait for the crossing signal. Instinctively, you hunch your shoulders and turn up your collar, thankful for the black wool of your jacket keeping the wet off. Eerie neon flashing spurs your movements, and you hurry across the street, head down against the wind and rain. Your feet take you away from the glowing lights of restaurants and stores and direct you downhill. You skirt a series of metal grates, thankful your boots grip the slick surfaces. Preoccupied as you are with keeping your footing, glancing at the perpetually parked delivery truck as you cross an alley, you almost forget to look up.

You've been travelling downhill, but it's unclear how high up you actually are, until you look. Directly in front of you, framed by strands of electrical wires and the mishmash weaving of trees, lights, and buildings, the lights of a city appear. In this rain, they appear ghostly and misted over, slowly rising from the cloudy depths of time and space. Even in this weather, the view stops your feet, letting your eyes feel even as your neck shivers and your teeth click together from cold. You've seen this view a hundred times, but here, in this cold rain, it looks especially beautiful. Plumes of fog flow through the streets, and the wind flashes the rain faster. As the cold begins to soak through your hair, your body takes over and your feet continue downward.

When you look up again, the city is gone. In its place, misty trees and the odd under-glow of rainy streetlights blend into dark gray clouds tinted pinkish by city lights. You continue on, boots clump-slapping on the wet pavement, dodging more sidewalk grates and slippery grass. As you near your destination, you realize you can actually hear the rain and wind, but no cars. The world is silent. Looking both ways, you step out into the middle of the street and let your hearing spread out. No cars, no dogs, no city noises. In the distance, a loose street sign clonks against its metal pole, but the wind soon shifts and the rain-sound returns. Complete and utter stillness, in the middle of a city.

At the intersection, the stoplights silently change from green to red to yellow and back, an endless cycle uncaring. In this light, the colors mutes to shades of gray. The whole world reduced to monochrome and senses, where your boots stick to wet asphalt and your turned up collar almost but-not-quite keeps the cold off your neck, where the sound of rain-wind-silence melds with the eye-speak of trees-lights-mist. Even as the cold seeps through your body and trickles down your neck, even as your breath adds to the fog and your breathing ghosts into the silence, the world spreads out, bigger than you can hear-taste-touch-smell-see. Even up here, surrounded by houses and wires and signs-dogs-cars-underglow of city pollution, the mist still rolls down and engulfs, softening edges. And under your feet, the world turns.

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