I had fun in college. Probably not as much fun as some people, like Brad from Kappa Delta Sigma Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake, or that guy who had that really great startup idea and never went to class because he was busy buying all the yachts, but I had fun. College is fun in general. I think most people will agree on this. There’s a newfound freedom and, in large part, you’re solely responsible for what consumes your time. And there are a lot of options. Among them being the increase in potential love interests and that waffle maker from the dormitory cafeteria.
For me, it was no different. I enjoyed this freedom and as many waffles as I could get my hands on. (I even became something of a waffle maker innovator, putting heaping doses of chocolate chips in the batter before carefully pouring exact measurements into each tiny square. It was a move revered by many, and definitely not seen before in any dormitory or home kitchen ever.) Along the way there were parties, dates (not a ton, but a few), entire Sunday afternoons spent doing nothing at all, tests, uncertain moments, and more. Many great memories were formed during this time. One of them being none of these things at all. Instead, it was a time I got caught in the rain.
It was October 17th, 2009. I was returning from… OK, I have no idea what day it was, or where I was coming from. It could have just as easily been the day I determined pogo sticking wasn’t a super efficient way to travel from point A to point B. I do know, however, that I found myself in a multi-level parking garage, with my brother Ian and good friend Emily. And it was raining. A lot.
The problem was this: the parking garage and our dormitory were separated by a bunch of open space. Enough open space for at least four football fields, or 2100 hot dog stands. And there was no other way to get there. You had to go on foot. That or the pogo stick. Either way, we were about to get soaked. After a little deliberation amongst the three of us – are we going on foot, or do we want the pogo stick? – we decided there was no other option. We had to make a run for it. Some time passed, but eventually we worked up the courage to go for it, and took off in the general direction of the dormitory, leaving the cozy shelter of the parking garage behind us.
Now, imagine a whistle being blown. Pair that with the sound of several angry cats and perhaps a large whoopie cushion being sat on, and you have the noise that was coming out of my mouth. To be fair, the rain was heavy; I could hardly see and for all I knew the lights lining the sidewalk were yellow cake. It was also brisk. So yes, I ran, screaming like a maniac. As did Ian and Emily.
Minutes later we arrived at the dormitory, completely drenched from head to toe. Shoes, shirts, shorts, socks, Spider-Man underwear that I may or may not have been wearing, all sopping wet. The coffee I was carrying too (Oh yes, I remember – I was getting a fancy fall coffee for Emily’s roommate, who I was definitely not into but kinda into). But we weren’t upset. Quite the opposite. We were all laughing. Smiling and laughing hysterically, as if we had just had the best time.
Why? Call it the magic of getting caught in the rain. For those seconds or minutes nothing else matters. You could be in the middle of a terrible life crisis or going through one of life’s minor inconveniences – like you ordered tomato bisque soup at a fancy restaurant on a nice fall day but they instead brought you burnt toast and bad cheese, or worse, you just realized you had a typo in a very important email sent to your fantasy football league. But that all goes away when you get caught in the rain. No problems. No worries. Just you and the rain and maybe somebody taking playful jabs at the Spider-Man underwear you may or may not be wearing because the rain is pounding so hard your shorts are transparent.
Getting caught in the rain also has the unique ability to bring out your inner child. The guy that used to laugh at stupid fart noises and smile for no good reason? Yeah, that guy’s still there. All it takes is a little encouragement. And for some reason, rain – among other things, of course, like a good snowball fight and stupid fart noises – is more than enough. (This happens in all rain storms, but it’s best when you are soaked beyond the point of trying to salvage that Macy’s sweater – that’s when you really let go.)
What made this particular experience even better, though, were the people I was with. Like a lot of things or moments in life, this one was better shared. Who knows, I could have been by myself making rain angels in a dog park with my new friend Tito, a German Shepherd who may or may not have been friendly, having a reasonably good time, but I don’t think that would have left the impression this experience did.
Yeah, college was fun. I have many good memories and friends that I am glad to say I came away with. I also have that one time I got caught in the rain with a couple of good people. While Ian and I are still very much in touch today, I’ve unfortunately since fallen out with Emily. It’s nothing personal. Life happens. People move to different parts of the country or globe and staying in touch becomes tough. But even if we never see each other again, we’ll always have that one time we got caught in the rain together, laughing, screaming, and generally having the best time. And for that, I’m thankful.
[Author’s note: Emily’s roommate that I wasn’t into but kinda into who I got the coffee for, did appreciate the trouble I went to to bring her the fancy fall beverage, even if the cup was collapsing on itself. She said as much. It was the closest we ever were to becoming a thing.]