I didn’t ride my bike to work at all last week. I looked at the 100-ish temperatures that were predicted and decided that my car looked luxurious with its AC. I had been feeling so guilty about being a lump that I decided to ride first thing last Tuesday. It was supposed to be in the ‘70s and gorgeous out. In the morning, it was. I thought about wearing a jacket, but realized that I would get warm pumping the petals, and I zipped down the streets with the crisp air rushing across my shoulders and the sun peaking just above the treetops in the blue light of morning.
By afternoon, the patches of fluffy clouds had turned into a gray blanket across the sky. By 5:00, it was raining and gusts of wind whipped the treetops back and forth. I had at least a fifteen minute ride home, unprotected, without a jacket. Sometimes I’m too smart for my own good.
Cheryl and I left work together. “We can see if your bike fits in the back of my car,” she said. So I walked in the rain to unchain it from the bike rack. It was a warm rain, and it soaked me through as I clipped the chain back to my bike. The smell of wet concrete rose sweet from the ground as the rain pattered on the leaves, and I realized that I didn’t really want a ride home. But I wheeled the bike over to her car anyway. Sane adults do not desire the discomfort that is riding in the rain. The bike is long and lean, and the crate I’ve zip tied to the back is enormous. I was glad when we took one look at her backseat and another at my bike and realized that it was useless even to try.
“I’m pretty wet already,” I told her. “It will be fine, it’s just water.” I mopped off the leather seat with the towel I keep in the basket, and I was ready to ride.
I was not the only one caught out on my bicycle. There was a soggy fraternity of us streaming water as we rolled down the streets. I nodded at them as we passed, and felt the warm contentment that comes with belonging to something larger than only me. I felt the cold drops sink through the fabric of my pants and drench my cardigan until the shirt underneath it was wet too. I breathed in the smell that only comes with spring rain. The drops rolled down my face beneath my glasses.
It started to rain harder when I was half way home, and I could hardly see the road for the rain dripping down my face and pelting me. I told myself that my helmet would probably protect me from the worst of it, but it didn’t. Still, I was happy. There is something glorious about getting soaked to the skin from water in the sky. I forgot that I used to do it when I was younger; put on a coat and galoshes and splash in the puddles until I was wet through. When it rained back then, my sister, my cousins, and I all became our own little musical. I enjoyed all fifteen minutes of it.
Tuesday night is date night, these days. I was on the hook to make dinner and there was nothing in the house. It was only fifteen minutes later, after I had changed into dry clothes and my grandmother’s rain coat, that I left the house again with car keys clutched in my hands. The storm had cleared to blue sky and golden sun again, and there was the crescent of a rainbow peaking from between the green leaves of the trees. I smiled to myself as another warm feeling filled me. Like maybe I was living in a book, where rainbows Mean Something and a ride in the rain is some sort of plot device.