Afternoon Showers

It’s 3:00 in the afternoon, late June, in Southwest Florida. 

It’s raining.

Like clockwork every day since we’ve been here, the sky darkens ominously, palm tree branches rustle nervously, and rain pours from above.  I’ve learned to take an umbrella whenever I go out in the afternoon.  If I’m not back home before 3:00, I’ll need it.

This afternoon  I am home, stretched out on the leather sofa in our back bedroom which serves as a den.  Osensibly, I’m reading Every Last One, Anna Quindlen’s recent novel about the “ordinary life” of Mary Beth Latham (whose life, I suspect  is about to become anything but ordinary.)   I’m distracted from this story, though, by torrents of water sluicing off the tiled roof, racing down the brick paved sidewalk to run off into the street.  I’ve been watching it for a few minutes now, staring blankly at the rain while the ceiling fan stirs the cold conditioned air around my bare feet, prompting me to snuggle them underneath a blue and brown striped throw pillow.

Earlier this afternoon, I’ve wandered from room to room in this house, idly picking up picture frames, turning on lamps, opening mostly empty drawers in decorative chests and tables.  We created this house from scratch almost 10 years ago, watching it built from the ground up untl we were finally presented with a tabula rasa of empty rooms to fill.   Everything here was brand spanking new, a novel treat for the pair of us who have lived in the same two (old) places for our entire lives.  But on this rainy afternoon, I poked through rooms which have remained pristine, opened drawers and cabinets that still release the perfume of new wood, and wondered what to do with it all now.

Here’s my fatal flaw – I never expect change.  Stupid, I know.  I’m over half a century old, certainly I’ve seen enough change in my life to realize the inevitably of it.  Still, I continue to block it out, stuff the possibility of it into the furthest corner of my mind and go blithely on as if every day will continue just like every other.  So change always takes me by surprise, forcing me to react to it being imposed upon me, rather than embrace it as something I’ve chosen for myself.  Consequently, I feel powerless, and stupid, and angry with myself.   I’d like to be the change-maker for once, the reason everyone else in my little world has to stop, take stock, and figure out how to respond, the one that pulls in the reins on everyone else’s life. 

Realistically, I know that isn’t likely to happen.  I’m as predictable in my complacency as these afternoon thuderstorms.  So as the skies above me begin to darken again with the spectre of change, I’ll take cover under my umbrella and wait for sun to return.


6 thoughts on “Afternoon Showers

  1. What change are you expecting, my friend? Do you need to leave your special Florida spot? I hope not, or that if you do, it is your choice.

    We had a similar discussion when going to the cottage this past weekend — the furniture, the things on the wall all date from my mother’s hand — and of course our down-home hand-me-downs (or “ups, since we’re in the north). The pictures, some of which I love, some of which I wonder “what was she thinking!”; the sofa — once it was nice and firm, now it’s low and too soft and doesn’t look right. My “stamps” are a couple of photos on the wall, a few things on the fireplace mantle, new quilts for the beds. As I bemoaned this fact, it became all to clear — Why don’t you change it?

    Change. That’s a creepy one for me. It feels disloyal somehow and yet for once, I itch to do it. No reason — just choice. And maybe that’s the ticket. Choice. When we have to change — that’s not so fun. But choice? That helps…

    • I definitely think that “choice” is the key element in making change palatable, even exciting. And sometimes it’s good to set some of the old things aside to make room for new.

  2. Becca,
    I wish you could know how often you express my feelings. I fluctuate between fretting about change and sticking my head in the sand. I hope your change will go smoothly.

    • I was thinking about you too, when I wrote this, knowing you’ve been through lots of changes in the past few years, and face still more ahead. Here’s hoping we both survive it all !

  3. Becca ~

    I’m fuzzy on the details here. It sounds as though this Florida place is a second home? A get-away? It must be, for there to be empty drawers and a new wood smell after ten years – and that would explain having a good case of the “what-to-dos”. Lots of people right now are evaluating their portfolios and their properties.

    But the larger issue you raised is change – freely chosen, imposed or stumbled over.
    I’ve lived with so much change of every sort I hardly think about it, except that I get restive if there isn’t enough of it. Granted, some change isn’t pleasant at all – I don’t like being absolutely anchored at home in order to care for mom, unable to travel now even for a weekend without great difficulty – but that’s the reality, and so I’m trying to make myself see my new role as the “big change” in my life, and feel better about it.

    Perhaps because I’ve experienced so much change, I almost can sense it coming. It’s been as regular as your afternoon rains, and I can smell it on the air. I don’t always know what it’s going to be, but when I know it’s out there, I know I’d better get ready. 🙂

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