Faye Rapoport DesPres


I have always loved the patter of rain on a roof. When it falls on our house in suburban Boston, I can close my eyes and believe I’m in a tent or a small cabin, surrounded by nothing but woods. The sound of rain calms me. Not many things have that effect.

Yesterday, it was sunny and hot in Boston, the sticky kind of hot that makes it hard to be outside. Last night my husband and I ate dinner at Chez Henri near Harvard Square, where our friend Jason, a seventh grade English teacher by day, works as a waiter. Jason always gives us a few extra treats, and last night that meant chocolate cappuccino cake and vanilla flan, served with dessert wines I’d never dream of ordering on my own. Heavenly. Then Jean-Paul and I walked down to the Charles River, where I like to stand on one of the footbridges and look at the city lights — Boston on one side, Cambridge on the other. The white churches of Harvard Square stood out, illuminated against the dark night. The temperature had dropped enough to make being outside bearable, and a breeze was blowing across the water.

This morning, when I woke up and looked out the window, I could tell immediately that it was starting to rain. The leaves on a tree that hangs over our neighbor’s fence were dipping and rebounding under the first few raindrops. Soon a steady drizzle was falling, and then we were in the middle of a drenching rain.

Now I’m sitting downstairs in my office, listening to the rain dripping off of the gutters, and landing nearby in the trees. Across the street, a freshly paved driveway looks like a miniature black ocean, with waves pulsing across its dark surface. A man in a white shirt just ran out of that house and practically dove into a nearby car, trying to avoid getting wet. But you’re going to get wet when it rains like this. When I went out to the backyard to fill the food and water dishes in the feral cat feeding station, my feet were soaked in seconds. The Gortex raincoat I bought at an L.L. Bean Outlet a few years ago at least kept most of me dry. Now it is hanging near the door, dripping water onto the floor.

Rain helps me sit still and reflect, and this morning I’m thinking about a few people I know. Cindy Zelman is boarding a plane for Colorado, a place I miss everyday. She’s spending the week at the “Wet Mountain Valley Writing Workshop” (title appropriate for this post), where she’ll take part in a program led by the incredible Dorothy Allison. Cindy is afraid of flying, though, and is nervous about travel in general. So I know today is a bit tough for her. My hope is that when she steps outside at Denver International Airport and gets her first glimpse ever of the Rocky Mountains, she’ll know that the travel part was worth it.

An old friend named Travis, a singer-songwriter I met when I lived in Colorado, is also traveling today. He posted a note on Facebook this morning saying that he’d arrived so early at the airport that security was still closed. We’re not in close touch, but my guess is that Travis is on his way to his wedding. I think it’s taking place next week. So I send good thoughts to T, who is not only a great talent but who always was a great friend to me. I hope he gets “a bluebird morning” (to quote one of his songs) on his wedding day.

I am also thinking about Joy Castro, who noted on her blog that she recently returned from a trip to Key West, where she lived as a child. Joy writes about her own experiences there, so I’ll leave those words to her. But she said one thing that struck me personally on her blog, about “…the futility and yet necessity and inevitability (if we’re lucky enough to have the means) of ‘roots trips,’ those hopeful, fraught journeys back to places of origin.” Being confused about a place of origin is a running theme in my own life. My father has asked me never to visit Poland, where he was born, and where he was imprisoned in the Warsaw ghetto before being deported to work camps in Germany and France.

Two weeks ago, when I had dinner at Ollie’s in Manhattan with my friend Tom, I noticed that I am still drawn to the city where I was born. But my family moved away when I was six, so I’m not sure if I would call New York City “home.”

My father, on a Sunday morning like this one, is likely sitting in his living room in upstate New York, watching one of the morning national news programs. My guess is it is raining there, too. At 81, my father lives with Parkinson’s Disease, and can’t get around as easily as he used to. He was a powerful man when he was younger, proud of the fact that he could pick up a couch and move it across the room by himself. Now he reclines on one end of the couch, with a small table nearby that holds his daily pills, some water, and maybe a plate leftover from breakfast. My mother, at 77, is probably in an easy chair nearby, watching the news with him, or reading a book.

I could sit here all day letting the rain lull me into thought, but it’s time to get to work — on something. It’s a shame that I always have this sense that I should get to work, even on a Saturday or Sunday. It makes me wish I really was in a cabin or a tent, far away from everything, just listening to the sound of the rain.

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