The sky gradually got darker. The sun left. I was soaked down to the skin. Even my bones were wet. I was cold. I could tell by the gooseflesh on my skin and by the numbness that began to creep into my toes. My socks were wet. My hair was like a sheet of plastic stretched down over my head. I didn’t care what I looked like and there was no one around to care what I looked like.
The asphalt turned darker in the rain. Everything got darker. Except the lights. The lights all got brighter as the night settled in. The streetlamps glowed. The rain refracted the light and made them brighter. Brighter and softer. I could almost feel them. They were waiting for me. Red and green and yellow and white. And the sound of traffic.
The cars all gleamed. The rain hid all the rust, the dents began to look like diamonds. It didn’t matter what make or model the car was, they all just looked clean. Clean and wet.
I thought about standing up and didn’t. I thought about moving from that bench, and couldn’t. I tried to bend my legs at the appropriate places. I tried to use my arms to hoist myself up. There was no strength in them. They were weak. I was weak. I looked at the pink flowers all over the ground. They were so bright. I looked up and saw that the trees had dropped all of their flowers. They were all there, on the ground, turning purple in the night.
I wanted to light a cigarette but the rain was coming own too hard. Fat droplets that felt like a million eyedroppers were squeezing the rain down through the clouds. I brought my hand to my chest and felt the bump made my Eve’s yellow scarf. I looked down into my shirt and saw it there, against my chest.
Even in the middle of a rainstorm, it was bright.
Just like Eve. Always a beacon of light. Always shining. Always reminding me to be optimistic, telling me that things were not so bad and we were happy. That we would and could be happy together wherever we were.
But how was I supposed to be happy without her? She brought me here. She brought me here and we were in love and we were whole. And there were things that I didn’t know about her but it didn’t matter then. It still didn’t matter, except that she was gone and every bit of knowledge that I might have about her would help feel like there was something left. Make me feel closer to her. I wanted to grow closer to her, if that were at all possible.
It’s strange how a person’s death makes us want to know everything about who they were when they were alive. We talk about what we remember, what we know, why marketing companies try to keep track of who in our family is still alive so that they can send the appropriate mailers.
A light tap on my shoulder told me that I had to go. And officer in a poncho and a blue cap with very large flashlight. “You got somewhere to go? Park’s closing. Go home.”
He didn’t know that my home had left me. That my home was floating somewhere hundreds of miles away. I could only hope. I hoped that the rain was taking her deep down into the earth, until she found the ocean. I wished for that, I pictured that. And then the officer tapped me again and said “Go.”
So I dd the only think I knew to do. I stood, lifted my pack over my shoulder, and walked back down the hill.
The grass was dark and slippery. There were places where my shoes sank into mud. They were already wet. They became heavy. My feet became so heavy with mud and rain. All of me was heavy. Everything was heavy. I wanted to put my head down. I wanted to lay down somewhere. I wanted Eve. I wanted the rain to wash everything away.
I imagined the rain coming down and washing the lights of the city away. I imagined the rain pulling down the lightpoles and telephone poles and traffic lights. I imagined everything melting down into the ground. I imagined the concrete melting away, too. I imagined the asphalt melting away. I imagined all of it dissolving. I imagined what lay underneath.
I imagined the gravel. The layer of hard rock. The layer of clay earth. The layers that had been drilled through, that had been tunneled through, that had been pounded and compacted for the sake of our building. I imagined the buildings. I imagined what lay inside them. At that hour of the night, they were mostly empty. These tall towers that showed us what humanity is capable of– all the they held were the tools for making this world go on as it always go on. For the most part. I wondered what revolutionaries allowed themselves to waste away inside these buildings. I wondered what dreams they also held. I wondered whether they looked out from their tenth-floor offices, taking paper to the copying machine, delivering mail, taking a break from their computers at the water cooler, and dreamt of what it would be like to fly out of the place. To leave. I wondered whether they wondered what different kind of life there could be. What different kind of living. I wondered whether they had dreams like Eve had. I wondered if the office-denizens longed to know the world as she had. If they longed to breathe. If they longed to make something else, some other way of life could work.
Or did they just leave their offices and five, six, seven, eight o’clock, go have a drink to wash away the day, and go home to sleep again?
No one lives without their dreams. Not everyone is allowed to learn how to dream.
I thought of my parents and how their dreams for me were swirling in the gutter, along with all this rain. I could not be further from what they imagined my life would be. I could not have been more opposite of everything they had wanted for me. It was true. I was not even happy. I was walking in the rain with no place to go, shoes wet and muddy, heart in turmoil.
I just wanted to go. I asked the sky where to go. I asked the sky whether there were a place where I could have another beginning. I asked the sky whether I should return to my family.
Lightning came in a flash in the clouds. The sky lit up with a resounding “No,” as though Eve had sent it to remind me to keep dreaming, to never stop living. That I was being a fool. That she would have loved to be there with me, alive and walking around and full of life, but she couldn’t, and that was simply what was.
Like those people in the buildings. That is simply what their life was. That is simply how they came to their jobs in their buildings.
Maybe they dreamed of having gardens along the glass walls. Maybe they imagined running barefoot through the hallways. Maybe they imagined taking the stairs to the top floor every day and looking out over the city. If they did, they would realize how big the world is, how much of it there is even in the short distance that our eyes are capable of seeing.
What would they do then? Unleashed from their cubicles. Unleashed from their collars at whatever work they are doing that they do not completely understand or that they do not want to do? What would those people who are in control, who make this system, who invent new ways of governing it, who have built this world in this way, what would they do without us? If we just stepped away and said we wanted to watch the clouds instead. That we wanted to go plant a tree. That we wanted to o anything but help make the world work exactly as it always had. That we knew that it didn’t have to work this way. That we could not keep trading life for the way of life that we had.
Somewhere, someone is always suffering something that no one else knows.
I stood at the intersection watching the rain melt the buildings. The numbness in my hands increased. My feet were heavily planted to the ground. I tried to remember the last time I had seen this intersection with Eve.
And then that moment happened. That moment that comes when we are at our most dire moment. That moment came when something snapped inside me. When I suddenly felt that everything that I had been just thinking, everything that I had been just feeling, every moment that I had had before Eve, everything that had happened with Eve, everything that I was experiencing now– that it had all built into something. That it was all sending me to do something. That I could just live. All of this energy expended into me, all that I had spent; there was more of it.
Something was keeping me connected to this universe and I could find it. I could seize it. I could go on. I could go forward. Eve would be with me in the only way she could, now. Eve was gone. Eve would be with me wherever I went.
I looked around me and saw that I was near the concrete park. The angular park with a few trees and a little dirt and a little grass to remind us of what the world once looked like and to train us for what the world might look like in the future. It was so strange, this place where men once walked around at night seeking a moment of passion, a moment of desire requited, a moment of love. I found the entrance to the subway and walked down into it.
I put some change in the machine for a ticket. The map glowed, inviting me to decide where to go. The lights buzzed, fluorescent. It was quiet, nothing but the sound of rain.
I walked to the platform as a train whooshed up. I got in.