Sometimes in life, a person makes bad decisions. Sometimes in life a person makes good decisions. And most times in life you have no idea which type of decision you are making as you are making it.
This morning, I awoke early to an already-slightly-uncomfortably-warm day. I put on my new favorite shirt and sat for a minute contemplating whether to wear my flip-flops or my Chucks. Flip-flops would keep my feet from getting too hot in this weather, but on the other hand, Chucks are just all-around cooler and closed-toed shoes seem to be the norm around here. My Chucks and I headed out to my favorite breakfast (gallo pinto = rice and beans mixed together) which was made (defying the seemingly-impossible) even more amazing with the addition of avocado.
Leave early for class so as not to rush and sweat, thus ruining the happiness of my favorite shirt. And at the last minute I grab my iPod, thinking, "this is not a good idea." I have no idea why I grabbed my iPod. I don't travel with it anymore because I have a crippling fear of it getting stolen. But with said fear screaming in my head, I left, stringing the headphones underneath the back of my shirt and hiding the earphones in my hair, and my Chucks, Jackie Greene and I all trooped towards campus.
It wasn't until half-way through my second class of the day that the sky opened up and unleashed every ounce of humidity that it ever had or ever will hold with a vengeance.
I was saved from pretending to not be surprised so as not to stick out by the other students who seemed as confused as I was. And the great big peal of thunder. That was pretty obvious and pretty distracting.
For the rest of the class I struggled between a desperate attempt to retain and copy down information, a futile effort to stop my hands from shaking after I forced myself to actually speak up, and occasional vain prayer for the rain to stop.
Which it didn't.
Even though I had to get my picture taken for my ID card right after class. And it was weird because I was absolutely convinced that the sky would clear just as class was letting out. Some times I get the feeling that my life works out like it would in a movie, like the universe and I communicate like old college buddies and it is completely legitimate for me to assume that the rain will magically let up just as I'm stepping outside, "luckily."
But it didn't.
I reached the front of the building to find the usual handful of people milling around and a sheer wall of light grey rain. So I did what I usually do. I changed the song on the soundtrack to my life, and prepared myself for a mad dash between buildings, to shelter-hop half way across campus to the Registry office. Dodging puddles and run-off I made it along the slightly covered walkway from the main entrance to the Social Sciences building to the side entrance of the same building where I stopped short. There were three different covered areas within my sight and all of them were filled with people just... standing. Waiting for the rain to let up.
It was pura vida at it's purest. No one looked angry or stressed or even inconvenienced. They just watched the rain and waited for the hole in which they could continue on to their respective destinations. Some leaned against nearby objects. A few with umbrellas shuttled people between shelters. But mostly people shuffled their feet bemusedly. Occasionally someone would realize that they really should get to class, or would tire of waiting and dart out into the rain. It looked cool, exciting, adventurous. So I secured my bag and made my own dash to the next length of hallway, where I continued, grinning and shaking raindrops out of my hair until the next doorway where I stopped again.
I leaned up against the door jamb and reveled for a while in my ability to be Pura Vida. I could wait here, just like everyone else, as long as it took. Especially because my next dash would be a long one. So it seemed okay to wait.
There's something to be said about acculturation. It's always such an achievement to feel like you've integrated yourself into a culture to the point where you no longer stick out. Where you know the slang, know the habits, know the mannerisms and can pretend like you belong. It's nice when you can feel like maybe, just maybe, people don't automatically write you off as a foreigner. And that's how I felt leaning against that glass door. Like part of the club.
Until I didn't want to anymore.
As I sat and watched the few, the proud and the crazy doing the hundred yard sprint to their various destinations, I remembered that I LIKE sticking out. I like it when I don't blend in, when people notice me. Especially if it's for something that I personally consider cool. And at that moment, just like it would have in the movies, I heard Jackie Greene reminded me, as the song faded out, that "Better stand tall if you’re gonna stand at all/ And if you’re gonna fall, well you might as well fall." So I did. Well, first I started the song over again, and waited for him to sing it again, then I took off sprinting. By the time I reached the concrete wall of the library on other side of the parking lot, where I paused for a moment in the relative shelter offered by a vertical wall to grin up at the sky before I was off again.
And then in that too, I found an odd camaraderie through smiles and glances shared with others who, like me, lacked umbrellas and sense.
When I finally made it to the office of the registry, I was soaked and my make up was running but I couldn't stop grinning (check my ID picture). Rain always gives me an uncontrollable feeling of elation. My Chucks were sopping wet, but I've never been happier to have my iPod. Best. Decision. Ever.