These streets wear tiredness. Men and women walk with invisible shackles in the rain. The day dulls like an old coat of paint. The clouds ride the London sky faster than clouds in California. Children see faces in them but today I see nothing. Just clouds. Could there ever be more?
I stand under the roof on the street corner. A business owner thumbs his cigarette and the white ash flies into the grey. He looks at me for a moment, then looks down at the ground. If he could cast a wish it would be laced in sentiments of anywhere but here.
Rainfall does that to most people in London; breaks them down; the weather wool pulled over their eyes. If they could pay for sunshine in money they would all find bankruptcy in their pockets. I would never pay for weather. There are better things to pay for. Like books. Or poetry scribbled on walls under a rainy day bridge. Who etched that beautiful line into the wall? I take a photograph of the words. I’ll hang it in my bedroom with this is how their rain feels written underneath.
I start thinking of things I would invent: windshield wipers for the eyes; beer cans that fill themselves back up for a nickel; anti scratch-and-sniff stickers for people who fart on trains; gutters that collect the leaking thoughts of depression; door handles that automatically wipe themselves; a sign that hangs over people that tells me their mood so I can approach the happy ones; monitors that know who you are so you don’t have to get a stamp to get back into the bar; a remote control that can change life’s channel; a picture frame that could hold my forever; a compass showing me where I’ve always needed to go; never knotting shoelaces; a symbol like yin and yang but for optimism and pessimism; a pen loaded with words I never wrote; rainrise instead of rainfall.
I stop inventing and walk by the train station but don’t take it. The tube smells horrible when it rains; mildewed passengers; everything wet and soggy, like shoes worn a month without socks. I stop to buy a few pints of ale and take healthy swigs while the rainfall comes down so prettily on the girls that walk by me. I have a nice conversation with one. She’s from Chelsea. We sit in the rain and it drizzles us nicely. She says she doesn’t mind her hair getting wet. I tell her I don’t mind lighting her cigarette in the rain. I share a pint with her. She shares a cigarette with me. I tell her about this band I’d like to see in the evening. She says she’ll come. I don’t think she will.
We meet hours later in Shoreditch for the concert. She comes in from the rain, all wet and wild. We listen to the band and dance with our beers spilling on the floor. She slips a few times. I catch her. She says it can be a memorable scene in a movie. I think it can be a memorable scene in my life. The show ends and the mist from the rain falls all around the lamplight we find ourselves under. I finish my beer and she takes the last drags of her cigarette. A few motorcycles line the street and she says she hates men who drive motorcycles. This gets a smile from me. She says she loves my smile. I tell her that’s nice of her to say. She scribbles her number down on a piece of paper. She sticks it in the pocket of my t-shirt and tells me not to lose it. The gutter collects the rain so neatly, but I think this girl collects the rain even better, the way it slips from her hair to her eyes to her mouth to the colorful dress she wears that’s lightning strike excitement for my rainy day eyes. And the rain continues to fall even though I think it should rise. And I walk the girl to her station and watch her go beneath the turnstiles then find myself back in the rain, loving its watery fingers, careful to place her numbers in my pocket, thinking to myself how I would never scribble those numbers on walls under a rainy day bridge.
Because they are meant for me.
And this is how my rain feels…