“Zeus,” my friend said suddenly, “please make it rain.”
My other friend clasped her hands together enthusiastically. “I love the feeling of rain.”
I grimaced. “I hate it. Every time a drop of water lands on my head, I think of acid rain burning into my scalp.”
At this offhanded comment, both of them stopped walking down the canopied path and turned incredulous eyes to me.
We were at Six Flags at one o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon, so far having undergone what I assume to be the full Six Flags experience. Meaning, we spent the past couple hours since our arrival a) waiting in line for a ride, b) that’s it.
To get this straight: I wasn’t in favor of the rain shutting down the park, which would make our one ride our last ride, or of the rain eating away at our flesh and suddenly I was the disagreeable one? It made just about as much sense as why were there in the first place: which is to say, none at all.
Tuesday, May 31st, was our school’s Senior Skip Day. Senior Skip Day originated when seniors, purposeless during the last full month of high school, joined in solidarity to skive a designated day. In other words, they did what they had already been doing for months, except they figured a collective defiance of authority would make more of a statement.
The teachers, in retaliation, wrested back control and made Senior Skip Day an official school event, complete with check-ins and buses and some teacher supervision. If you really think about it, that brings us back full circle, but if we had wanted to think about things, we would have gone to school instead. So there we were.
Around four in the afternoon, our group of eight was rushing back to make the funnel cake sale ($5 before 4PM) and wondering if caring so much about discounts was a sign of our transformation into old people when it began to drizzle. While my friends ate their greasy, delicious winnings, I preoccupied myself with trying to capture photos of light rain.
Like a switch had been flipped, the drizzle became droplets. Two seconds later, the droplets gained some weight and beat steadily against our umbrella like Pop Rocks. Seconds after that, jackhammering. And then the rain just called it a day and coalesced into one heavy sheet of water that descended on us with the wrath of the previously invoked lightning god.
We ran to the nearest gift shop and tracked mud all over the floor. Honestly, though, I think the cashiers were more surprised to see customers than they were about the mess.
The intercom issued about four weather alerts warning us that some rides would be temporarily closed (even though, as it finally dawned upon us, many shops and rides had been closed for this very reason as early as the morning) while we rummaged through souvenirs.
I settled down by a stand of name bracelets with a friend and we somehow managed to amuse ourselves for half an hour by discussing ugly girl names. (Bathsheba, Agatha, I’m sorry.) Five of my friends ran outside to dance in the downpour. They looked like they were enjoying themselves, swaying to unheard music, hair plastered to their faces. I’m sure I looked to be enjoying myself just as much—enjoying not contracting pneumonia.
“Live a little, Nicole!”
“That’s exactly what I’m doing,” I called. “Living!”
They shook their heads at my endearingly non-adventurous self, up until the moment we were kicked out of the shop and back into the rain.
“You kids can’t stay here,” one of the cashiers ordered, “we’ve got to close this store.”
We all looked out into the storm and then back at them.
They shrugged and pointed through the rain at some distant shop and it was at this moment I began to understand why students came up with Senior Skip Day in the first place.
Anyway, that was how, moments later, we found ourselves huddling miserably in a Flash Pass store, drying ourselves off with the allotted one paper towel each under the frigid A/C. And how, moments after that, we were running through the rain again. The specifics aren’t really important. Basically, what’s important is that we were really, really wet by the time we reached the pavilion to wait for our buses. And the funny thing about being really, really wet is that you might not think it, but you can always get wetter. Really, really, really wet.
Our district’s buses were scheduled to arrive at 6:30, and it was 4. We stood and waited. My group, specifically, stayed back even after others from our school left to wait on the bus because ours was the only one that hadn’t yet arrived.
At around six, after I tried walking back through the gates to the only dry area and was barred from reentering, we gave up and walked out to the parking lot, hoping to find spare seats in other buses. (We would later find out that no one had actually bothered to listen and sit in the right bus but had all been waiting there the entire time.)
The first parking lot was empty, and we had just about rounded the corner to the second one when the school buses, one after another, turned into the first lot. The five of us, splashing through inches of water, screamed. Waved. They didn’t stop. People on the buses were pointing at our spectacle, but they didn’t stop.
I was—we were—laughing so hard. Everything was blurry, silver—from the rain, or was I laughing and crying—and my shoes were bags of water. We were drowned rats, stumbling and shouting and hiccupping and I had long stopped shuddering at droplets that had ceased to burn. I turned my face up toward the sky, trying to put words to this terrible and wonderful feeling.
Maybe it was the hypothetical acid in that rain that induced this inexplicable bout of senior sentimentality, but, in the moment, I felt like my past four years of high school had culminated to this one moment, the instant when cold pricks of discomfort subsided and swelled into the gentle vibrations at the crown of my head, the salt in the corner of my tilted lips. Wild. Open. Free.
Sometimes, you just have to let these things happen.
“Now can you understand why we were dancing?” My friend asked as she struggled to peel apart her eyelids, glued shut by the rain.
I thought about how she had been soaked hours longer than I had, and here we all were, in the same exact place. “Nah,” I said. And grinned. “Y’all are still idiots.”
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