It was another playground Florence would send me to. A summer downpour and she'd throw me into galoshes and really not much else and I'd run full speed into outside and start dancing and stomping and jumping into puddles. The harder the rain the harder I played. The wet was part of a song inside me and nothing felt better.
The rule was that if it rained and you were wearing the good shoes from Mr. Kaplan's store on Clinton Street, you had to take them off and walk the rest of the way barefoot. Those shoes purchased yearly were more precious than our feet but New York sidewalks were actually pretty OK to walk on in those days so I never remember any of us getting cuts on our feet.
Sunny or cloudy, the gaggle of girls we were, me the least religious, them in yeshiva grabbing hands, racing around in a circle, screaming at the top of our lungs a rain dance in Hebrew "..Shav Te Maytim Vesasson, Mi Ma Ne Ha Yeshua Mayim, Mayim, Mayim, Mayim Hey Mayim Vesasson..."
A young summer, still amazed I didn't become something hard to recover later, always wearing this favorite hooded sweatshirt found some place like a park or movie house, or gotten at a church bazaar where we got all our clothes. And the rain that day when Bobby took something really really bad and we all huddled under the beat-up 1970's Washington Square Park Arch while he shook and it poured and even though many sweatshirts have since come and many sweatshirts have since gone, giving him that particular sweatshirt so he could last out the rain until he came down from whatever he climbed up on is something I still selfishly regret. Because I split to a spiritual community that night and he split to Minnesota or Baltimore before I got back and I never saw it again.
When I was briefly a bike messenger you worked or you didn't get paid. I hadn't saved up enough for the deluxe rain suit the better guys wore. I don't remember what it was I did wear but it was just part of the job and wet was part of the air I lived in. Perhaps it was there I stopped breathing as I plunged in and peddled as fast as I could so the day would finally end.
My nine-year commute to City College more often than not on a bike and sometimes with a violin strapped to my back, one night rain pouring so hard as I zipped down Broadway, then still completely deserted and no shops or theaters or people, just a shuttered fast avenue and what was I thinking when I started to sing "..In the Rain What a Glorious Feeling I'm Laughing Again..."? That an orchestra would well up behind me, joy would fill my heart and I suddenly dance like I felt inside?
Metamorphosing in ages that had to be a mistake where did the time go and noticing I hated umbrellas almost as much as liver, but would lug one around and refuse to walk home even if it was slightly drizzling.
But one solitary afternoon recently a rare nap suddenly hearing the storm that barreled horizontally through the city and also through windows left open, the pounding whipping wailing sounds of wet and wind almost the very moving picture of my life and I awoke into the ferocious rain laughing like the girl I once was.
MY PRIVATE CONEY presents IT WAS HER NEW YORK, the short stories that accompany the work-in-progress video and photo collection of the same name (myprivateconey.com - media link - IT WAS HER NEW YORK). The stories and the media explore the tender rubble that holds both my mother, Florence's and New York's soul as one disappears into old age and the other into gentrification. All are real observations and/or experiences with very little tall-tale telling.
Except when it makes the story better.
Please visit myprivateconey.com for additional information and sample works.