Sunday, June 29, 2008

Summer Thunderstorms

There is something so essential about summer thunderstorms.

I remember back in college, during one of those tortuously delicious summers when most everyone was gone and the city felt like it was mine and mine alone. I was living with a bunch of guys in a dilapidated 3-story house somewhere off central campus. Between all the pot-smoking, the evening cookouts, and the beer-soaked laughter, there was always the summer rains. It was like an unspoken ritual for us; we would be drawn by air that was stung with the sweet smell of earth and lavender and by the sounds of distant thunder. We would sit on the porch of that dilapidated house on a couple of faded couches and watch the storms come in. In simple silence. The rain would soak the streets, the lighting would split the sky and the thunder would be violent and precious. And I was free.

I thought about those days yesterday. I had been biking all day around the national mall, stopping occasionally to read a copy of The Alchemist. I had read the book before, but given my renewed commitment to simplifying my life, the message of the book has taken on a whole new meaning. Before I knew it a storm had come in and I was completely soaked. Scampering to the back of the Jefferson Memorial, I watched bands of rain soaking the grass as tourists, like sheep, ran every-which way. I suddenly thought about those days in college, about the laughter of friends, and about the hushed silence of rain-soaked memories. Looking up at the darkened sky I calmly walked down the steps to the grass. The rain was warm and welcoming. And I was free again.

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