The sky and the doors of the Metra opened at the exact same time last night.
Disembarking Ravenswood commuters pulled out umbrellas in synchronized fashion. But what is normally a systematic, orderly filing of work-ravaged 20- and 30-somethings turned into a chaotic, comical free-for-all as rain dumped on the city.
Umbrellas bumped heads, scraped necks, tangled with other umbrellas. The pace slowed — tacitly, patiently. Those of us at the Lawrence light exchanged nervous laughter as lightning lit up the sky and it occurred to us how much metal we had managed to gather in one place.
As the light changed, the rain fell harder and it became clear who really wanted to get home. Armed with a wind-proof umbrella and bright yellow rain boots, my long legs pumped me down the path I take twice a day, five days a week. I skipped my usual sights; the babies and dogs were inside, flowers were getting walloped and houses were shut up tight for the day. And while my concentration was on keeping my cardigan dry and making my keys accessible, I took in different things: People screaming and running to their cars. Riders struggling on their bikes, covered in any way they could fashion just trying to carry on as usual. Cars yielding for — waving on — pedestrians, regardless of stop signs or lights.
I fared marginally well until I got to my front gate and my umbrella got stuck. (Figures.) I let out a shriek of laughter and ran the rest of the way with it at my side.
Chicago doesn’t get storms like this very often, so “when it rains, it pours” has never been a more accurate statement. But for some reason, I loved the wet seven minutes it took to get off the train and into my little garden apartment. Had I done it by myself, it wouldn’t have been as enjoyable, because needless to say, the infrastructure of the city isn’t built to withstand torrential downpours. (Puddles.) It’s the people of this city that make Chicago amazing, and it’s the people of Chicago that made that rainy commute not only bearable, but a little enjoyable. And getting out my umbrella, accidentally smacking some guy in the back of the head, sharing a joke at the stop light and getting a laugh? I felt like a person of Chicago. That’s cool. No, that’s amazing.
I’ll take the rain.