"I like the rain," I heard one teacher say to another in the surgical technology office. "It's nice." The other teacher didn't agree. People move to Los Angeles for specific reasons... and rain usually has nothing to do with it. In fact, Angelinos seem oddly incapable of dealing with ANY weather that deviates from the sunny norm of the city.
"I'm going to be late for class," one student's voice said over the phone today as the surgical technology directer silently fumed at his desk, "It's raining out."
"'It's raining out?!!'" the director repeated, "Not, 'there's bad traffic,' or 'there was a medical emergency' or even 'the rain caused my car to hydroplane crash into an oncoming vehicle' but just 'it's raining out.' That's a sufficient excuse? Jeez, it's ridiculous how people panic over a little precipitation in this city."
It's true though... the already-bad LA traffic increases three-fold on rainy days as people skip waiting for the bus and basically eat the high gas prices in order to use their own vehicles. Wait times for public transportation, cabs or carpooling friends are increased greatly. "It's raining," my classmate tells me after I call her for the second time to ask why she's not at my house yet, "There's a lot of traffic. I'm barely moving now."
And yet nobody really complains. Despite the transportation difficulties we all know how joyous rain is.. and we all feel a secret relief even as we wait in traffic because we know that the buckets and buckets of rain pouring from the sky means that life in general, life at the most basic levels, can continue onwards for now. It's like getting a paycheck from the earth. After a rainstorm we're good for another couple of weeks or so and we don't have to dive into our savings again.
In the nursing home where I work at the windows are surprisingly small. This is a disappointing architectural decision in my opinion because you would not believe what a drag a windowless space can be. You get depressed without even quite knowing why... and if there's anything a rehabilitation center needs it's less unnecessarily-depressing features. Still, because of the small windows with thick, drawn curtains it came as a surprise to me when I wandered up to the front of the office and saw the rain pouring, making circle ringlets on the be-puddled concrete patio outside.
A resident was sitting by the windows in his wheelchair, watching the rain quietly. An LVN, leaving after completing her night shift (I'm assuming) walked out of the office in her street clothes.
"Red shoes," the resident said.
"What?" The LVN asked, turning towards him as she buttoned her coat.
"You're wearing red shoes," the resident repeated, "They're very attractive."
"Oh, thank you," the LVN said. She opened her umbrella and stepped out the door into the rain.
"Red shoes..." the resident continued to himself after she left, "Red shoes, red coat, red umbrella... very beautiful. Very becoming."
I mulled over the old man's words. The LVN in question was a rather portly woman in her fifties. She certainly wasn't the stuff of romantic fantasy. The resident was in his eighties. Perhaps he was remembering when he was a middle-aged man and the fifty-somethings of today were pretty, teasing twenty-somethings- young flirtatious women of yesteryear who laughed amongst themselves while older, more stoic men looked away with their heads full of yearning. To some men, maybe, a twenty-something remains a twenty-something even when she is a fifty-something and the mother of twenty-somethings herself.
The resident continued to sit quietly by the window. I asked him if he wanted a paper.
"No, I can't read anymore really," he said, "And the only news I'm interested in right now is about Robert Wagner."
"Used to be a good friend of mine," the resident said, "And I know he didn't kill Nathalie Wood. Couldn't have. Man wouldn't have hurt a fly. He loved that girl. She, Nathalie, was spoiled as anything but that wasn't her fault. She was beautiful and beautiful girls get spoiled. Just the law of nature. She probably just went walking on that boat, fell, hit her head and fell into the water. If Robert had been in there, he woulda dived in after her to save her. He adored her. He never would have hurt her, never. Don't know why people are saying he did."
"Did you know a lot of celebrities?" I asked.
"Yeah, sure," the resident replied, "I was a photographer, you know. Met a lot of celebrities. Knew Carol Lombard. Met Audrey Hepborn. Now she was skinny. So thin. Like that, just the skinniest girl I ever met, but beautiful."
"Did you know Marilyn Monroe?" I asked
"Marilyn? Oh, she was a mystery," the resident said, "She was killed by the mafia, you know. They tried to cover it up, but that was how she died. By suppositories. The media covered it up but the mafia killed her. With suppositories. They shoved thirty suppositories right up her rectum."
I looked over at the nurse by the front desk. She shook her head. The resident sighed. "Roll me outside," he said, "I want to breathe the fresh air."
I rolled him out onto the patio where the air was surprisingly cold. The resident didn't seem to mind it though. "This is better," he said, "This is where the fresh air is." He sat there for ten minutes or so while I shivered. The rain was pouring gallons upon gallons, flooding the patio, sidewalk and street outside. The palm tree fronds were bent downwards, small streams of water running off their tips. The grassy areas between the sidewalks and the streets had obviously reached their absorption limits. Water stood in ankle-deep puddles and streamed off into the gutters where roiling, trouser-soaking rivers rolled past. The rain was pounding at such a rate that nurses were literally stopping by the doors while they made their rounds, goggling at the water and saying, "Whoo! Just look at the rain! Unbelievable."
The rain was still pouring, but at a lesser rate, by the time I was finished with my clinical rounds for the day. It was 3:00 in the afternoon exactly. I was with my friend "Anastasia" and we were looking for someplace to huddle while we waited for Anastasia's husband to pick us up. We ran into a small "Liquor" store on Santa Monica Boulevard.
For those who don't live in Los Angeles, "Liquor" stores in this city don't just sell liquor. "Liquor" stores are really just convenience stores that started out as mere alcohol venders and ended up selling all the conveniences of modern life because they were the only retail establishments willing to do business deep within the "bad" parts of town- the parts of town where CVS and Walgreens wouldn't go.
Anyway, to continue onwards, Anastasia and I went into the store. We saw the familiar sights of shelves and freezers full of pre-processed foods. We also saw- bizarrely- three well-upholstered parlor chairs gathered around a large space heater like they would a fireplace. In these parlor chairs sat a few older men and women. They looked like regulars... and the entire atmosphere of convenience-store-cum-cozy-living-room seemed both sweet and strange to me. Anastasia looked like she was thinking the same thing as we both left the store to stand under the outside awning.
The rain is beautiful. The way people huddle together- both inside and outside- during a rainstorm is beautiful. Seeing a familiar car turn the corner onto the street where you're waiting is INCREDIBLY beautiful too... especially when you're cold, wet and tired.