My drop is losing. I want to tap the glass but that would be cheating. I do not cheat, not even when I am at home alone. It quivers, raising my hopes… Finally.. But no, it stays in place. Its neighbor is slowly slipping down when it bumps into another raindrop, absorbs it, and together they race down to the windowpane. Why do they never go straight down? They always leave behind a zig-zag trail, like sleepy liquid lightning. The glass is smooth. I don’t understand. My drop shudders, then finally gets going, slipping, sliding, faster and faster, till at last, it reaches the end. “Good job,” I tell it. It is important to be encouraging.
I want tea. As I’m tearing my teabag open, I realize I already have a cup on the counter. It is cold. I put it back in the microwave.
There are things to do. There always are. I dry the dishes in the drainer. There is surprising happiness in an empty sink. It is one of the strange adult pleasures, like new toothpaste plump and unsqueezed, folded laundry, and leftovers in the fridge. I never expected it, never thought that I would be so excited to try a new kind of soap.
The laundry machine churns.
The rain drones on.
My tea is cold again. I drink it anyway.
Rainy days are for sleeping in, for long books, for hot drinks, for solitude, and contemplation. But I am already awake. I watch the water swirl around as I rinse out my teacup. I finish ripping the previous tea bag and put my cup back in the microwave. Black tea, this time, to keep me awake. I yawn. There’s something so sleepy and slow about rainy days.
I’m not tired, not really. I went to bed early last night. Another strange adult boast where getting to bed before midnight is an accomplishment. Woke up, heard the fuzzy sound of rain, stretched, and snuggled back under covers.
The microwave beeps.
No, it’s not exhaustion. My heart beats slow, settled, calm. Drowsy. I could sit down and just sit for a while. Breathe. In and out. Listening. Watching drips sliding and colliding. Seeing things grow.
The washing machine is done. It screams. I clear the lint out of the dryer filter, wash my hands, and dump the wet clothes in. Why is lint always blue-gray? I stack washcloths and match socks.
The rain is louder now. I watch it ripple against the pond. I open the screen to let the fresh air wash over me. Rain is grey, feels a little calm blue, but it always smells yellow-green.
I remember other rains, where the rain leapt back six inches as it struck flat concrete roofs. Rain that swept down and broke mountains. Villages smothered as they slept. Rain that ripped through roads and tore ancient terraces. Rains that brought black and white helicopters afterwards, terrorizing the schoolyard neighbor running to get her laundry from the roof. Rains that threw nine buckets of water into a second floor apartment through closed windows stuffed with grocery bags. Rains that were strong and powerful. Rains that could come with great winds and have their own names. Odeng, Peping. Rains that were furious against fire-black soil.
Rains that gushed down canals and swirled around pink snail eggs, gurgling into rice paddies, with frogs welcoming. Rains that churned up mud for the wallowing carabao and softened it for the bent women with tangled toes stabbing young shoots into the muck.
But this rain falls on maple trees and sloped roofs. The windows have screens to keep the bugs out. People eat bread and think the government can stop typhoons. They never consider this about tornadoes.
I remember my tea. It is bitter. I drink it, pleased by how it adds to the atmosphere. Now is the time for deep thinking, for aching poetry, for finding purpose, and wrestling with the meaning of life.
I sit. And sit. I do not have deep thoughts. I want to, but there is nothing but the blathering of the rain.
It is very rude of thoughts not to come when they are called, when we have time for them. Now, I am waiting. I am ready to have epiphanies and write books. But poetry does not come when you have a pencil in hand. No, ideas come when you are bubbles-to-elbows deep in dishwater, one minute at the end of your lunch break, and two minutes before your eyes close. Perhaps, creativity is like cats, scurrying away from clutching hands, and then purring as they walk all over your keyboard.
Or, perhaps, I do not practice enough. Thinking must be like walking or singing or arithmetic. The more you do it, the easier it will come. I think that I’m always thinking but maybe I’m worrying instead. I think small thoughts like what time I need to leave to get to work, what do I have in the fridge? What do I need to do? Was that tomorrow or next week? Do they really like me?Perhaps, that’s the problem. My brain’s too cluttered with small thoughts, there’s no room for the big ideas to come in. Maybe that’s what they mean by clearing out your mind. I don’t believe in thinking about nothing, of filling your head with “om’s” and buzzing static. Perhaps, it’s more like clearing a table, washing the dishes, pushing the insurance letters and catalogs aside, so you can spread out paper, get all your markers and paints out. Prepare a place where you can have a creative mess and come back to it. Or maybe just stop, be silent so you can listen and look.
The rain keeps dripping, dripping, dripping.
I drink more tea.
The rain is falling, increasing the pond, grass nodding with droplets.
Somewhere on the other side of the world, rice is growing, and bright motorcycle tricycles splash through puddles. One day, the rice will be grown, and the tangled toed women and the young men will harvest it, bundle it up, and dry it. And it will be bagged and sent across the sea. I will go to the store and buy it and make chicken adobo. I will sit and eat it and think of how it looked, golden ripe in the terraces, like in Malicong, bright stairs to heaven. Maybe, by then, I will have profound thoughts.
I choose another raindrop quivering on the glass. I watch, breathe, and wait. It slips, slides, racing, racing until it reaches the pane. It is the first. “Good, well done,” I tell it.