The morning after a rain, no matter how sparse, is always startling. It isn’t just that every sprout and blade and leaf of green is greener. It isn’t just that the vista has been swiped by a giant squeegee and everything is in clearer focus. It’s not even that the birdsong is deeper, as though the entire genus overnight has become a choir of contraltos. It’s that some of the pall of dust that the rain has washed away wasn’t that clinging to the landscape, but to you.
I’d gone to bed with my head spinning. Not like Linda Blair’s, but it might as well have been. And the spinning had no center. Like a lump of clay misplaced on a potter’s wheel, snatches of conversation flew off in small clumps and landed on the floor. Unexpected memories sprang up and splattered my face. Futile attempts to separate lies from truth left my hands covered in slick mud. And my foot just kept pumping and pumping and pumping the pedal of the wheel.
As exhausted people do, I eventually fell asleep, though the spinning continued in my dreams. When the radio alarm went off at 6 a.m. with NPR alerting me to the fact that the NSA is collecting Verizon phone records of private citizens, it seemed obvious that neither my subconscious nor my unconscious nor any fairy sprinkling magic dust had intervened overnight to bring about anything like détente between the warring factions of my overloaded brain.
I showered, dressed in lawyer clothes, gathered up briefcase and purse and headed out. Halfway down the back steps I stopped, startled into stillness.
Every spring, I am a little anxious as I wait to see if the hostas show back up, a little excited when they do. I watch their knife-blade buds slice up out of the ground, all tight and hard, and over the following days unfold into varied patterns of green and yellow and white banded leaves. I stop and look at them every morning to remind myself that resurrection is always a possibility.
What stunned me so this time was one hosta in particular, one of the smaller ones. I could see that in its thick spade-shaped leaves, it was still holding some of the night’s raindrops, big and bulbous. They glittered in the morning light, looked like diamonds, polished and ready to be set into rings. In their smallness, they reflected the light of the entire universe.
I could feel the spinning in my brain beginning to slow. I could feel the center beginning to take hold.
Last week, the sweet and talented woman who wrangles my hair had a little extra time between appointments and suggested that we (meaning she wielding the flat iron and I doing my best to sit patiently for an extra 40 minutes) straighten my mane. For the next few days, I got a lot of attention for not looking like myself. No one said anything negative, but only Kate, like the child in “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” was brave enough to state the truth: “You don't look like Kap ... not OK.”
The most frequently asked question by those who recognized me was, “How long will it last?” And the answer was, “Until it gets wet.”
That’s what I thought of as I looked at the hosta, its leaves trembling just slightly under the weight of their precious stones. How long does dullness hide brilliance? How long can selfishness masquerade as need? How long does deception prevail over truth?
The ground stays parched and barren until it gets wet. Clay is hard and useless until it gets wet. People can pretend to be something they aren’t until they get wet. It is only after the rain has fallen, only after the tears have been shed, only after the tide has washed the shore that the sun has something in which to reflect its light.