After five years of toting it to both office work and friendly gatherings, I finally decided to set aside my trusty black umbrella and leave it at home. As it stood, I was already carrying too many things to and from the office: a knapsack, a laptop, a couple of notebooks, my breakfast... one three-foot-long umbrella simply made the whole mess a lot less manageable.
For most of the day, this seemed as though it was the correct decision.
Then, at around six-thirty today, it started to rain. Hard.
I've long held the notion that the universe was against me, but this was probably the first time that I had some hard evidence to prove my point. Knowing that fact did me absolutely no good, though -- whether you like walking around in it or not, the rain gets a shot at you anyway.
Sometimes I wonder just how people can possibly consider standing in the rain to be epiphanous. Or romantic, even. I've walked through the rain before, and I find it difficult to see as anything beyond miserable. It's like some huge transparent fog that you have to trudge through, cold and wet and forlorn. The knowledge that you'll have to clean up both your clothes and your belongings when you get home doesn't make it any better.
Apart from the fact that I was standing right there outside my office building wondering what kind of fix I had gotten myself into, there was the matter of the shoes. Yes, the shoes -- after about three years of wearing out the same set of leather soles, I finally decided to trade them in for some brand-spanking new ones. That, and I decided to break them in today... the same day I made my stupid decision not to bring along my umbrella.
Rain isn't quite murder on modern shoes, of course. It won't totally ruin them, it won't necessarily age them prematurely, and it won't usually run into the glue that normally prevents the leather from peeling apart. But even a little rain can make the best shoes feel moderately uncomfortable, and I can tell you that there's nothing that feels as nasty as the squinch-squanch of wet soles padding across the puddles on the sidewalk. More so, especially when you're the one making those same squinch-squanch noises. And because you just happen to be the person foolish enough to walk in the rain, you just know that your new shoes are going to need five days to completely dry out afterwards.
As if to punctuate its approval of the situation, the universe even decided to throw a little wind into the mix. Wind is pretty bad when you get it with a rainstorm. It's bad enough having those little droplets of water falling from the sky and onto your clean hair, but when those same bits of fluid are stinging your eyes and drenching a perfectly good set of clothes, then you know that the universe has suddenly decided to pull out all the stops.
And after a while your socks start getting wet. This, I find, is a lot more uncomfortable than it feels at first glance. After even the shortest period of time, the combination of socks and shoes makes you feel as though you're stepping into a cold puddle no matter where you place your feet. Making things worse was the fact that I had decided to wear black socks today -- the cheap kind normally sold in most department stores under a generic trademark -- and I knew that the dye was most definitely going to run. Once I started scrubbing my bare feet at home, I mused that it would have been far easier to have dunked those toes in a tub of India Ink. At least it would have been much more warm.
With all that, it probably won't come as a surprise to anyone that I'll start toting my umbrella around the place again. It may look strange at times, and it may be one more item of note in an increasingly overloaded life... but at least it'll have its uses, and at least my socks will probably be able to stay dry.
That, and at least I can thumb my own nose back at the universe.
Let's just hope it doesn't do anything more drastic, though.