Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rainy Day People

Rainy days in New York aren't just wet, they are really really wet. And windy. The day after a rainstorm, the streets are strewn with destroyed umbrellas, and pieces of destroyed umbrellas. I like to take pictures of them, because they are like sculpture. Sometimes I see dead umbrellas stuffed into garbage cans, half sticking out, or just tossed aside, and I like to imagine the scene that ensued. How some poor person running through the rain was suddenly overtaken by a huge gust of wind that caught at their umbrella like a sail, ripping the cheap fabric from the straining ribs, turning it inside out or shredding it, as they struggled to keep their head and their packages dry. Once I saw a woman running through the rain, vainly covering her head with a broken, wilted umbrella that had lost its handle, as if it were a huge leaf.

At some point the wet person decides that the broken umbrella is more of a hindrance than a help and casts it aside like so much litter, and runs as fast as they can to the nearest subway entrance, store, or empty doorway. I've never seen anyone in the very act of tossing aside a broken umbrella, but I'm sure I will someday, because the discarded brollies can be seen everywhere. My favorite one was a Batman umbrella, torn up and left for dead on the flooded staircase of the 125th Street subway station. I still regret not having my camera that day. Okay, so I'm crazy, but I think there is something very melancholily beautiful (how do you make an adverb out of an adjective that already ends in ly?) and poetic about dead umbrellas. They illustrate a moment of drama and frustration; they embody the struggle of life in this big city. The lucky, strong ones survive and live to see another rainy day. The unlucky, weak ones are defeated and are left like dead birds by the wayside. The very unlucky, very weak are picked apart by the elements of the storm until nothing remains but their bones, like insect legs on the sidewalk:
Luckily my umbrella survived today's rain and wind, valiantly defying the fierce wind, although only keeping me dry from about the shoulders up. Sometimes the rain here falls parallel to the ground. I left work with a paper bag that had completely disintegrated by the time I got to the subway station, and I was thankful that even though I forgot to bring my lunch to work, I remembered to put on my tall rubber boots. Someday I'll be the girl who's umbrella flips inside out while she's crossing the street, and I'll have to decide whether to struggle with the contraption or toss it into the nearest gutter.


JennyLu said...

What A cool blog you got today! Great Job. Hope you survived this ice storm the TV is talking about.

Just Julie said...

Discarded umbrellas are poetic! Thanks for the pics, and words.

There's snow here in Salt Lake!

rachel said...

melancholically! (so says, anyway)