Mom hollered after me. “Don’t forget your umbrella!” I wanted to roll my eyes. I hated umbrellas. I hated the long ones; they’re too big. I hated the folding ones; they’re too fragile. Still, I took the big umbrella; this, at least, I can play with as a mock sword.
“Hey, mister— you left your umbrella!” I blinked out of my reverie, right into the face of a pretty stranger. I smiled at kind store clerk, mumbled a thank you, too shy to ask for her name. And left, right into a light drizzle: an awkward state between a beautifully mysterious fog, and a glorious heavy downpour.
I couldn’t remember what my first umbrella looked like. All I could recall was my mom’s hand as she held it over me, while we walked under a pleasant rain.
“Why should I bring an umbrella?” I loudly complained to my dad. He looked at me with eyes both kind and condescending. “Just in case. You never know.” I get what he meant, but it didn’t change the fact that for me, lugging around an unsightly umbrella didn’t look cool— not for a high school student who just hit puberty. I wanted a raincoat.
I stood on the cold street, the wind’s chill a far warmer cry from the unfeeling crowd, everyone just wanting to get a ride home, be home. I smirked; nowadays, the office felt more home to me. Telltale frowns were exchanged as umbrellas bump into one another, personal spaces incarnated. I didn’t mind; I’ve come to learn to invest in sturdy umbrellas, so getting mine jostled wasn’t much of a concern. I proudly beamed; I still recall buying this piece almost three years ago— it was starting to show signs of being worn-out. But it was worth every peso. It had been my faithful companion through several storms.
“Always be prepared!” Our scoutmaster drilled into our heads. It was senior year, all I thought of was the upcoming high school graduation. Outwardly, I nodded in agreement, just to keep a good example to my subordinates in the scouting outfit. Inwardly, I wondered if umbrellas still are a necessity. Wouldn’t it be cool if someone invented an anti-rain portable bubble forcefield?
Later on, however, I’ve come to see a truly practical purpose for umbrellas, as my classmate managed to earn some pogi points with his crush; she was stuck with the rest of us on the student pavilion, waiting for the rain to end. He offered to accompany her to her ride. As they walked away in the rain, I made up my mind: always be prepared. Just in case.
For some reasons, the most vivid memories of my teenage weekends were those spent at home during rainy days. Nothing special happened— not unless you’d consider reading special, which I do. Especially when good books are hard to come by then; I barely could afford the cheap pocketbooks, and it was later on that I discovered I could actually take home books from our library. And so, one rainy afternoon, I was out of books to read. Out of boredom, I took out an old Bible. I was that bored; I used to enjoy reading it when I was younger, hours spent on Bible stories. I skipped most of the other books there.
“Life sucks.” An older acquaintance said. I looked at him curiously. We were not close, at least according to me. But I didn’t say anything; I regretted that. He started talking about his life, his dreams, his problems. My thoughts were on the upcoming youth camp and the incoming sophomore year in high school; I couldn’t care less about his story. But I found myself talking about the things I do know, things I somehow knew. And I realized that somehow along the way, I was prepared for this.
But some things, no matter how much you prepared for it, doesn’t change anything. I stared at the window, out into the gray sky, partly wishing I could just be one with the weather and let my eyes rain along. Maybe it was my fault for conditioning myself too much for the worst. It didn’t change the fact that it would hurt— her leaving me, her saying goodbye. “I’m prepared for this,” was the biggest lie I told myself, I bitterly accused my own thoughts. Traitor, my heart anguished, a faint ghostly echo in the silent rhythm of the rain. Yet I had to believe, to live on — for hope, just in case.
The summer skies are often too bright for someone like me, too majestic and breathtaking for people who always notice the dark clouds— or look for one. The sound of happy families have always been the same, especially on the open fields. I looked on with a tinge of envy, my jealous thoughts corrupted with a selfless appreciation for life. And for a moment, I allowed myself to believe that it will always be like this. I wanted to believe in a world like this. I was rummaging through my backpack for a pack of Nagarayas when she unceremoniously plopped beside me, and dug her hand on my bag as well, only to retrieve one of my treasures. I mock-pouted as she opened the bag of Mr Chips without my permission. “Why do you have an umbrella?” she asked. “It’s so sunny!”
I wiped a few crumbs off her lips with my hand, tempted to lick my fingers as a wistful indirect kiss. I stared at her sparkling eyes, blissful from the MSG-induced happy-hormones-high. I wished I could always see her like this: an eternity of springtime within her smile, her laughter pure from the sorrows of our present reality. But I knew I’ve come to love her not for such dreams; no, it was in a storm of emotions that swept through our lives where we found each other, finding shelter under umbrellas as broken as we are. I was afraid of being unprepared, of being unworthy. Maybe I am; maybe I still would be.
She snapped her finger. “Hey, you okay?” she asked. I nodded, smiled. The wind carried a faint scent, and I knew the wonderful day wasn’t going to be so wonderful for long. “Let’s go home before it rains.” She looked at me, then shrugged. “So what if it rains?”
I laughed. She’s right. I have an umbrella. That, she is, too.
As He had always been.