As I lie in bed waiting for sleep to come and thinking about some boys I used to know, I hear thunder like city-provided garbage cans rolling on asphalt. I hold my breath for a minute trying to determine if it really is a neighbor's garbage can or thunder as I suspect. A flash of lightning confirms my first theory and I go back to thinking about the boys. We are not in each other's lives anymore for reasons I can't exactly pinpoint. I wonder about them, and their lives now, and why it was so difficult for us to be anything, even friends in the end. At this moment I feel more alone than I have in so long.
Another flash of lightning. I count one, two, three, four, five before the thunder rolls. It seems to be right above my head. I wonder if I can't hear the rain because of my own thoughts, which seem to crowd my head and ears with "could have beens" and "what ifs", useless thoughts really, because they won't change what's already happened. I sit up and look out the window next to my bed. More lightning, followed by more thunder. I raise the blinds a bit so I can see better. In the not too far distance I see another strike of lightning. I open the window and the thunder ripples all the way across the sky in a long, smooth rolling fashion.
I can't hear the rain because it isn't falling yet. I set my chin on the windowsill and watch the firework show through the trees and rooftops that fill my view. I look up at a tall pine directly in front of the window and imagine what I'd do if lightning struck it directly, while I watched. Be startled, of course, but would it do some kind of damage to me? No. I'm in the house. The tree would be a goner, that's for sure. I wonder if parts of it would break off, plummet to the Nelson's driveway or launch forward toward the roof. I hear Rosie's bell. She's a fan of open windows, and as an indoor cat, can never get enough of outside. She sits next to me on the bed for just a second then puts her front paws on the windowsill, watching the show with me.
The rain starts to fall. Slowly at first, droplets here and there, making a symphony of sounds on different surfaces. It starts to fall harder and I begin to feel the crushing loneliness subside. I don't know if it's Rosie emerging from under the bed to join me at the window, or the rain finally falling from the gray above. Maybe it's both. But I don't care what it is. It's making the thought of this potentially sleepless night seem more bearable. I don't want to leave the sound of the rain, but I have to get up and go to the bathroom. Thanks to my new kidney, that seems to be a frequent during the night now. For just a minute I miss the pleasure of 8 straight, solid hours of sleep. Then I remember the hours and days and years of dialysis and getting up twice a night doesn't seem so bad. It never was really, just those mornings when I'm tired at work because Rosie woke me up at 6 to feed her and I had to get up more than once to pee. Even then, it's miles ahead of the alternative.
When I come back Rosie isn't in the windowsill where I left her. Apparently she has learned to open the door if I don't close it tightly. I walk to the stairs, hear her bell as my sister brings her up. The rain is making her crazy and she's taking it out on my bed, running and leaping sporadically, here and there, taking a swipe at my hand as I get my laptop to write this seemingly pointless blog post. I have nothing better to do. Sleep won't be coming anytime soon. Rosie leaps off the bed and finds her bendy straw. This is a new kind of joy for her. She chases it around the carpet, wild and erratic movements. It goes under the closet door so I open it and she chases it back out. Then three times under the bedroom door. I let her out and she brings it back in, straw in mouth. I can't help but laugh, partly because she's so adorable and partly because of all the cat toys I've spent money on and she prefers to play with a plastic straw she pulled out of my mother's water cup.
Rain is falling harder now. Next door a car drives down the driveway and before I can distinguish that it's a car, I think it must be pouring. I think about my book, and the epiphany I had today about how to write it. The hardest part is going to be finding the right words. But now that I know how I want to write it, I can actually begin. I mean begin for real, not the bits and pieces I've tried to write in the past, and given up on after 2200 words or so because it's just not right. I have direction. I have brilliance. I have an idea. Now all I need is the words. And it all came to me thanks to a paper I wrote about Jersey Shore and Situationist theory in a class last spring.
The rain is subsiding now. Rosie lost her straw once again to the crack under the bedroom door. i told her I wouldn't get it after the third time and I'm sticking to it. She sits on the floor, half heartily pawing at my power cord. I tell her she's starting to look tired. I wonder if I am too. It seems that in less than an hour the thunderstorm has put the pieces of me back together again. I almost thought I was falling apart, but I don't think I was. Not really anyway. I guess that's the thing about memories. They can tear you apart because of things that did or did not happen, but it's up to the present, and consequently the future, to force you back together again.