the rain came

Well, the rain came. Misty floating pillows of it, directionless and soft. Unthreatening, it promised not to interfere with anyone's plans. Then I guess it changed its mind, or just got tired of holding its own weight, and the tin roof above me became a drum. In the pitch black bedroom I pulled up the covers and listened. Each drop was a glass marble surrendered by a sky too full to keep them. Hundreds of marbles fell, then thousands, until the wind stepped in and picked up a slingshot, and the marbles hit with such ferocity I expected to see moonlight piercing through at any moment.

The rain loosened the soil on the cliff above the house, shaking down small stones and clumps of earth. I had the sensation of being buried alive, and with each crumbling patter I pictured faceless mourners tossing handfuls of dirt onto a casket.

It woke me up periodically, from feverish dreams that either made no sense or too much of it, I'm not sure which. One saw Terence embracing me lightly from behind, turning my cheek to kiss me with an adroitness I hadn't remembered ever knowing. He evaporated, leaving me melting and unsure, and standing at the edge of a shallow pond. Someone dared me to wade to the center of it. And when I did, I found a circle of my friends scowling at me in disappointment. I didn't know what I'd done; I only knew I'd confirmed their worst suspicions.

We had a sort of Thanksgiving. The family, myself, and three neighbors whom I tried terribly hard to impress. They must wonder who the hell I am, I thought uncharitably of myself - of them. What gives with this stranger, this interloper from across the country? She is not blood. Where is her own family?

Woody, of course, knows the answers to those questions now, and probably wouldn't ever have asked them anyway. He and his wife (tennis buff, no nonsense but quick to laugh) brought spaghetti squash, sea-salt dark chocolate caramels, a pumpkin pie the size of a manhole cover, and a bottle of Sauternes. The Sauternes really deserves its own post, honey bright and smooth and lip-licking sweet. It was my first, which made it special to me. And it was the first Sauternes Bill has had in decades, which made it special to him. He and Hannah used to order it as a young couple in California - I believe he said on trips to Mendocino. His face when he spoke of it - laughing about how little he knew of wines back then - briefly lost all of those decades. Woody, too, had a Sauternes story to tell. A group of nine friends, gambling one day on a $900 bottle they had to split, well, nine ways. $100 per man, for about a sip. Worth every penny.

Today the rain abandoned all restraint, laughing at me, spitting in my face as I stubbornly rounded up the last day's worth of photos. The wind turned Hannah's umbrella into a sail, and I nearly toppled into the water trying to take a selfie at the end of the dock.

I didn't have a great day today. Sleep has evaded me all week for a combination of reasons, twisting my nerves into a bundle that threatened to snap at the slightest provocation. And provocation came tonight, in the form of a nasty burn running the length of my forearm. I was making vegetable chowder (Hannah liked it so much the last time I made it) and I stupidly used a short-handled cup to ladle some of it into the blender. My elbow grazed the lip of the pot and I jumped, splashing piping hot soup onto myself, my favorite navy cashmere sweater, and the floor.

Everyone swarmed to help me. To clean up my mess, to treat my burn, to fetch me painkillers. Their solicitousness sent me sailing over the edge, and I had to brush tears - humiliating, childish tears - from my cheeks so I could see to finish my cooking. At the table the meal was subdued, heavy with the tone I'd set with my overreaction, and it wasn't long before Bill's gentle prying unleashed the truth underneath the ostensible reason for my tears. I was exhausted, anxious about returning home, lonely for friends who wouldn't be there when I got back, and generally in a storm of self-doubt.

Not exactly the note I wanted to leave on. I mean, I didn't say all that, though the subject of my breakup did come up momentarily. But they could see I was fraught with worry and sleeplessness, and Bill ordered me to bed early.

That was seven hours ago; only one of which I slept for.

Oh god, here it comes again. I wish you could hear it. Great gusting sheets, surging suddenly just now as if desperate to drown out my bleating self-pity. Or maybe gently wash it away. Maybe the rain is a friend tonight.

Anyway, friend or foe, it turned the lake and its surroundings into a crayon box today. It wicked the leaves down from trees that weren't ready to release them; they were still too bright, too alive. They lay stunned on the ground - a wet, waxy palette of goldenrod and ochre, strawberry and chartreuse. I feel guilty filtering pictures of them, like I'm adding salt to food that's already plenty seasoned. So only the tiniest bit, to make sure their vibrancy comes through loud and clear.

The sound of the rain, though - that you'll have to imagine. And now, for me, sleep - though maybe I'll have to imagine that.