Today, here in East TN, we are having quite a storm! Its pouring down rain and this weekend we got our fair-share of thunder and lightening. Saturday evening was "the game" (UT football is like no other...well, maybe it is like many other places in the South...I wouldnt know...I havent lived here long) and about 20 minutes before the game started (while everyone had already made their way to their seats and were smooshed quite nicely inside the stadium) the sky turned all nasty-like and began to spark with lightening! Woo!
You see, I am your true-blue definition of a "fair weather fan". No really. One of the reasons I decided not to go to the game in the first place was because I knew that it was supposed to be 96 degrees (with at least 30% humidity because that's what it tends to be around here in the "summertime"). Also, I wasnt able to get tickets with my group of friends due to not knowing the specific time regulations that are required in order to "request" tickets...its a bit of a complicated system if you ask me. Anyways, needless to say, I was not planning on attending the game from the get-go and I am SO glad that I didnt! For me, sitting in the bleachers soaking wet while watching football late into the evening does not sound attractive. For all you hardcore fans? Good for you! (Hey, somebody's gotta be there to watch them, right?)
While everyone was heading TO campus, I was getting myself OFF campus. I have needed to go shopping for a long time and get some new shorts since I've lost about 20 pounds since the last time I wore shorts. To my delight, I have dropped two pant/short sizes! Yay! That was definitely an added bonus to this shopping spree!
Once I finished my shopping, I went outside to wait on my bus. Well, as soon as the automatic doors slid open, I turned right around and walked straight back indoors to wait on my bus. The storm had come! Now, granted, I dont ever watch TV (although we do have 2 in my small, 2 bedroom apartment...) and I figured the weather on this fine Saturday would be much like how it had been this entire past week. Wrong. The weather had completely changed in less than an hour and a half that it took me to shop.
While standing waiting on the bus (outside) for the last 10 minutes before it was due to arrive, I struck up a friendly (and very animated) conversation with three freshmen girls. It is very comical to me to now look at students and pretty much automatically recognize who are the freshmen. Nonetheless, I asked, just to be polite, and they confirmed that they were, indeed, freshmen. (I mean, who else takes the bus and shops on game day and then asks for directions on how to get back to campus?)
These particular young'ins were from Memphis and had extremely heavy accents! It is not rude to say this because I studied it in my linguistics class, but the Black folks in the South speak an entirely different dialect than I do! I try my best to understand them and not laugh because they seem to work themselves up so much when they are talking to one another. I cannot tell you how many times I heard "mmmm Jeeeezus!" in the 10 minute conversation we had. Very great! I love the personality and animation these girls added to our (seemingly) ordinary conversation about the weather and bus schedules. I was laughing very hard by the time we got back on the bus.
We made it just in the nick of time! About 2 seconds after we pulled out of the parking lot, the ran began to POUR down! It was one of those "drench everything in its path" type of rains. I felt sorry for my fellow citizens who were waiting with great anticipation at the various bus stops along our route as they boarded the bus soaking wet. By the time I got back to my bus stop, about 50 minutes later, the rain had lessened QUITE a bit, but it was still sprinkling. As I took my groceries and new (small) clothes inside my apartment all I could think about was how glad I was that I didnt live in a cardboard box like many of my African and Mexican friends. I think we take "shelter" for granted WAY too much in this ritzy ole country of ours...especially in the South where there seems to be a strong divide between the rich and poor, black and whites, Southerners and non-Southerners. When I say its a bit of a strange world here, it really is different from the one I am accustomed to in Southern California. I am not saying that I grew up in poverty or that I even helped those who DID live in poverty while living so close to the Mexican Border. Now, however, I feel quite differently and wish that I had helped out more.
This summer my sister Amanda, and I, and our friend Gail went traveling in Europe for 16 days. We love to penny pinch and the trip was extremely inexpensive for the amount of time we went and the things we were able to experience and enjoy.
If you havent heard of couch surfing, listen up! Couch surfing is this wonderful deal-ie-o where you sign up online, message a bunch of hipster 20 year olds, and then go spend the night on their couches. You can do it internationally and when you return home, you can return the favour. While in Europe, we couch surfed a few times and you have no idea how much that helped with keeping the cost of the trip down. Not only that, but we got to jump into "a day in the life of a European Citizen" and see what life was really like for these people. I know this is far off the subject of crazy weather, but I have a point. Hold on.
These Europeans we stayed with lived in relatively small-ish apartments with many other roommates. Its not because they are poor or need tons of people to help pay their rent (not at all) its just that living in a mansion like we have in CA and in the South especially is totally unheard of. The Europeans have everything in "mini" size. They go to the stores every-other-day to get fresh food because they dont have room to store 2 weeks worth of groceries in their flats/apartments.
What if we lived a little less extravagently? A little more like the Europeans. It sounds like a contradiction because the Europeans have it pretty well off, but no one would listen if I said "Hey! Sell all your things and make a house out of palates and cardboard and you'll be happy as a clam!" like the Kenyans. It wouldnt exactly work like that. However, when people come over to our apartment and see that it is pretty decently sized, they say "Wow, this isnt bad at all!" It kind of bothers me when they say that because, sure, we could afford a larger apartment, or even a whole house, but why? Why live in extravgant comfort when others have so little? We could even have 2 more people stay in our place seeing that we have a couch and a futon in our living room. Sometimes I wonder if we are living life all wrong.
Days like today make me especially thankful that I have a little cave of an apartment where I can bury myself inside and not have to leave (seeing that today is a holiday and I dont have school...nor do I have a job right now). Days like today also make me a little pensive because I think of the 200 homeless people in my city that dont have a place like mine to go. As I watch the rain falling in sheets from the top of my window pane, I wonder how it would be to have 2 or 3 homeless people (or travelers, or couch surfers, or poor people, or anyone without a place to call "home" at the moment) sitting on my lovely couch and futon.
This song is from The Fantasticks, Broadway's longest running musical ever, and I fell in love with this song about 3 years ago for its beautiful piano arrangement. It's called "Soon Its Gonna Rain" (ok ok so it already IS raining at this point in time) and talks about all the things 2 imaginative teenagers (who are in love with each other) will do when it's raining. Have a listen for yourself; its quite lovely.