A single bead of rain dripped down off her hood, hitting her eye behind her glasses, before rolling down the front of her shirt. She flinched in reflex, pulled her hood up more, and put her head down. It wasn’t supposed to rain for another fifty minutes, not in earnest anyways. She took her phone out of her pocket to check. Forty minutes now. Just enough time to get home, if she hurried.
She wondered what the rain would sound like hitting the side of her tent. Not that she owned a tent, yet; she still needed to decide on one to buy. But how could you know what you want in a tent without using one first?
It had come to her out of nowhere, a butterfly of a thought that drifts past you and lands on your nose, sprinkling some scales like pollen in its wake. Scales to seeds, taking root, under the current, slipping into your subconscious until it was so ubiquitous to be original.
Whether it would strengthen the soil or speed-up erosion remained to be seen.
She had reached the sudden realization she had never been camping. Her dad had taken her on a few overnight trips in camps with Indian Princesses (a psuedo-girl-scout group that was perhaps slightly less culty but certainly no less problematic) but they had stayed in cabins, only sleeping in sleeping bags on beds for the novelty of it all.
There had been the time she had spent sleeping in the car when road tripping with some of her girlfriends after high school, but that certainly didn’t count, either. After her friends had gone to sleep, she lay awake watching the stars through the sunroof.
With her mind on it now, she pulled her phone out again to look up some tent review, before another raindrop skidded off of her hood, landing on her screen and impossibly zooming into a text message from her mother. She wiped it on her jeans and put it back in her pocket.
She wasn’t sure what had compelled her to want to go camping. Although she was certain she had to get out of the city. At least for a little while. Something about being there had made her feel ill the past few months. She knew if she were able to get away, to rest away from it all, she would be able to think more clearly.
Hadn’t she been thinking more clearly before? Before what? Sometimes she thought she couldn’t quite catch her breath, but maybe that was just the rain. Maybe she was overthinking it. But maybe she was underthinking it, and actually she was really sick of the air and the people and the humidity and the noise. She sometimes worried that she wasn’t giving things enough thought. Or too much. It depended on the subject.
And anyways, wasn’t there something wrong? That was everyone’s problem, she thought: All the psychoses and neuroses of her generation boiled down to the certainty that something was wrong, but a total lack of consensus on what, exactly.
Wasn’t there something wrong with a society that offered $59.95 plastic tubs of powdered protein (which she still purchased, for after yoga classes). What exactly was the diagnosis for a place that profitably supported an “artisanal cupcake factory”?
She looked up to see a flash, an artificial lightning strike, as all the street lamps struck on in a row, remaining dark as they warmed up like the CFL bulbs in her apartment. They would lay dormant for the next few minutes, heating to an acceptable temperature for them to strike on.
She turned the corner, almost home. What was it about the city that felt so familiar and so foreign? So many of her days now were just wandering through the wet steel, bouncing between imagined errands, waiting for the night to come where she could sit in her apartment in peace without feeling shame.
A man stood with his dog, if you could call it that, just a quivering lump of fur, standing in a puddle in a garden box on the sidewalk. The dog looked up at the man, expectantly, its gaze unwavering as she passed, the man fully absorbed in his cellphone.
As she entered her building, she set one of her grocery bags down to fumble for her keys. She tried to dig them out of her purse, before a man, sort of stocky, like a former high school football player came down to exit the door. She thanked him as he opened the door, sparing her the trouble of opening it herself, but he just pushed past, not looking at her. She felt foolish for thanking him in the elevator. Who regrets thanking someone?
All her restlessness disappeared as she cooked. She moved throughout her kitchen effortlessly, each step connected to the last. She ate her beef and bell peppers at her computer desk, awkwardly pushed into a window, sitting down just as the rain started to fall. She closed her laptop, leaving it alone to ponder the Amazon reviews by itself.
She sat for a moment, not eating, not doing anything. Just staring. She flipped off the overhead light, leaving herself in the dark, and opening her curtains all the way. She returned to her food. She heard the sound of the wind through the trees. It started to come back to her, slowly at first, unfolding in front of her like the curtains being drawn on a play; the spill of city light and the sound of the rain washed over her.