Tags: Rain Wind
Hurricanes: they're a reality of living on the eastern seaboard. One blew threw the other day, Hurrican Dorian; as usual the models were all over the place: the NOAA map plotting the "cone of uncertainty" mopped almost the entire east coast with the multi-colored potential "paths", some predicting that Dorian would sail wildly and harmlessly into the blue Atlantic before even having the chance to attack North Carolina and some models forecasting despair and frustration with wind, rain, downed powerlines as far inland as central North Carolina. The only consensus the NOAA reached was that anything was possible.
The storm was scheduled to reach North Carolina on Wednesday afternoon. However, staring out the window of my capstone ASIC / FPGA design capstone course, I noted that the white, fluffy clouds hanging in the sky looked a little sadder than the day before: nothing hinted that a hurricane was approaching. Maybe they'd gotten it all wrong, nothing was coming and it was all a hoax: after all, it should be here. The sun was shining and nothing seemed at all wrong.
The morning sun rose the next day, Thursday, with a slight red hue; although it was mostly sunny all morning, the rain started up around noon.
Stepping out on the balcony of my apartment I watched the strength of the bands of rain ebb and flow as unpredictably but constant as a sea-tide; I gripped the white, plastic railing and let my socks and feet be wet by the rain which blew in under the roof above. There's nothing anybody, even the NOAA, could do about the hurricane except dull its consequences and mend the damaged, scattered things in its path. The rain was falling, now.
I had work on this particular Thursday: 3P~6P. Not a terrible shift, all things considered. Weekday afternoons in a coffee shop are exceptionally boring and with the wind and rain and claps of thunder thrown into the mix I was preparing myself to simply wipe counters, walls, ceilings and floors for three hours without hardly saying a word.
I collected my personal items: keys, wallet, etc. etc. and headed to work in my Honda Accord. The AC's broken but I remedy it by rolling down the windows. But my commute this afternoon through the wind and rain doesn't permit me to do any such thing: I drive down Avent Ferry and shortly arrive at the shop, exiting my vehicle and approaching the building I note a few people huddled under the shelter immediately outside. I wave and nod a little in their direction, accidentally allowing the rain which has gathered in the promontory of my hair to race down my face and into my eyes. I reflexively, quickly grab my sleeve and wipe my face, retreating into my workplace.
There is hardly anyone inside and yet it still smells like freshly-ground coffee. I imagine that once these stores are long and closed and their bankruptcy is only something like a row in a ledger locked in a filing cabinet in an IRS building some many, many years from now the store grounds will still smell like coffee no matter how many ventures begin and end in their place. It's an amusing thought which precipitates a smile on my face as I walk through the front door. The barista and line-mover's attention snaps to me as I breach the door and immediately sags back to whatever task they were busying themselves with. It's clear that nothing is happening, today especially.
Breaching the barista counter and signing my timesheet I join their ranks, twirling my towel and walking lazily back and forth and here and there around the shop, making sure that everything is shiny and full and stocked on the off-chance someone dares brace the rain and wind and declares, God damn it, I needto get a coffee today and no hurricane nor wind nor rain nor downed trees will stop me. For these so-determined individuals do I polish the counters and keep the machines humming and at-the-ready.
And a few of them do pour in from time to time, mixing their resolved spirits with the wind and rain which causes the door to blow open sometimes, causing our dull attention to sharpen and snap doorward only to soon wander back to our lazy conversation: How many Star Wars movies have there been? Have there been any good games since Skate 3? What was our schedule like for the next week? Such questions we tossed around and deconstructed for nearly the whole shift.
After one keen bout of "Is J. Cole the best rapper alive?" I swung my towel around my hips and playfully dusted off the chair I must've dusted off 100 times today, returning to my post underneath the single speaker in the shop, now as always tuned to 88.1 WKNC HD-1, N.C. State University's radio station. Today, occasionally the broadcast of house-hits is interrupted by a range of cruncy, oscillating tones followed by a robotic voice announcing tornado watches, flash flood warnings, etc. etc.
I wave my towel around in a playful manner as the robotic voice echoes around the near-empty store.
Then, one time once the robotic voice is finished with his(?) latest tornado warning, the radio cuts back to the DJ in the studio, who has changed her platters to Yaeji's Guap. It's a keenly melodic sort-of house music, Yaeji blending English and Korean over a deep, wet synth accompanied by a steady, equally-deep drum-kick.
It's a song I know well: I'd listened to this song at least 50 times on my way to and from work in San Francisco. As soon as the office clock struck 5 o'clock I'd rush out of 50 UNP and down into the belly of Civic Center station, hopping on the first Richmond or Antioch train back home, fitting my headphones over my head while I'd wait and queueing up this song over and over and over. Even in the mornings I'd put it on: it made me feel so separate, so individual and standout-ish from everyone around me on the crowded San Francisco-bound BART.
The pace I'd been spinning my towel had slowed: I looked at myself dead-on in the mirror and no sooner had I done this than the door once again blew open, capturing my attention and having me halfway hope that someone would walk through.
But the wind shut the door behind itself once again: I resume twirling my towel, maybe to the beat of the song or maybe to the beat of the rain: the song ends and something of the coffee shop atmosphere changes.
Memories: distant, untouchable, rose-colored memories.