There are places people go to be alone—the cavern underneath a much-beloved bed sheet, or a neat, perfectly arranged desk, or the inside of an old car, worn and familiar and only stationary if you want it to be. I do not have a specific place to retreat to—when I want to be alone, any place will do. But I have a time. I want to be alone, away from the noise and the people and the anxiety that follows me like a shadow, right before the first downfall of an afternoon storm.
It’s easy to see when it’s coming. Clouds roll in, fat and gray, and wind whips through the trees, bending supple limbs and shaking leaves into a soft rasp. There’s something in the air, something you can feel, something that climbs under your skin buzzing and thrumming and lighting you up so that every cell of you feels just a little bit more alive. Color seeps from the sky, and the roiling monochrome mass above makes every color below that much brighter. Spring storms are best, in my opinion, when the leaves and the grass are already so new and green that the sudden intensity, the sparkling verdancy in anticipation of the storm, creates a color you’ll never see any other time.
Because that’s part of the what makes the feeling so electric, so thick and heady with promise. The anticipation. It’s the pause in a song before the first guitar riff. It’s the space between lips before a first kiss. It’s a kind of magnetism, and I’m drawn in like a negative pole to the center of the magic.
I stand outside, barefoot with my toes curling in the grass. No one else is around—it’s just the storm about to break and me ready to welcome it. I feel like a conjurer weaving a spell. Something pulses through me—it inspires me, invigorates me, fills me with a sense of power and purpose. I want to create something, like the world is creating this storm. I tip my head back and close my eyes. I listen to the song of the wind, feel the rise of goosebumps up my arms, let the magic of the coming cloudburst surround me, and only me, wrapped in the pause of this moment, the little comma in weather’s clause—the sun before, and the storm after.
And then my mouth opens, and on my tongue the first raindrop lands.
Hannah Madonna is a librarian and writer currently living in the southern US. You can find her on twitter to talk about writing or her cats @hannahwritegood.
Photo by Geetanjal Khanna.