You know how the bright sky can darken within a matter of minutes before a storm? That’s what happened when I was sitting outside to write one afternoon. It was a warm, humid day in Boston, but the sky was overcast and there was a slight breeze, which made the air comfortable rather than oppressive. I was sitting in a quiet corner of the community courtyard. There was a group of friends (two women and one man; all in their late 20s) occupying the grill. As the sky began to turn an ominous shade of steel, a gaggle of chatty children with a few female chaperones entered the courtyard. Before the intruding group could disrupt the otherwise quiet atmosphere any further, the sky opened up and dumped heavy droplets toward the earth. There was a cry of disappointment and the group quickly retreated. I felt like a misanthrope for delighting in the misfortune of my chatty neighbors, so I could selfishly enjoy the solitude of the outdoor space.
I was somehow fortunate enough to occupy the only covered spot in the courtyard, which is made even more serendipitous by the fact that I had my laptop with me. The group by the grill were equally stunned by the sudden onset of rain but only the two women fled the courtyard as the man, manned the grill with a green bottle of Heineken in hand. Their grilling festivities had not even commenced; as far as I could tell everyone was on their first beverage and no food had yet been prepared. How sad it was to see literal rain on their parade.
The rain was not torrential, but the droplets were fat and heavy. The young man leaned on the nearby table and watched the grill unbothered. A few minutes later, both women returned, one in a rain jacket and the other holding two big umbrellas. It seems that their grill fest was not cancelled, just interrupted.
The humidity broke and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees as the afternoon turned into evening. From my dry corner, it was hard for me to understand why these stubborn young people continued their grilling rather than pack everything up and call it an evening. The cushioned outdoor seats were soaked, the wind kept blowing over their propped-up umbrella (knocking over the beer once), and the rain—by god the rain—was relentless.
The man continued to stand by the grill and the smell of burgers was mouthwatering, even though I have not eaten beef in a number of years. I could see the glow of the fire pit in the distance and could hear quiet female chatter from the other end of the courtyard. Again, I wondered, “why don’t they just pack up and eat inside?” But no, they each picked up their burgers, ate and sipped their drinks in the (now lighter) rain. The man too picked up a burger but chose to consume it standing without the protection of his large umbrella.
When the grilling was finished, I heard the trio continue their conversation by the fire pit. The smell of smoke was somehow pleasant. They really seemed to be enjoying each other’s company on this warm, wet evening. I was really taken by this moment. Here I was, sitting in my dry corner alone thinking about how lucky I was for my cozy outdoor shelter. But how lucky was I really? The trio chose the rainy exterior even though they have access to kitchens and quality appliances. The three enjoyed wet burgers, wet seating, wet glasses of wine and beer, and wet conversation, and for them, that was somehow okay—preferable even. The rain died down to a trickle and I heard a soft, upbeat pop tune coming from an iPhone. I packed up my belongings and headed from my dry little corner to my dry little home.
The trio outlasted me. There is something about good company that can make any situation more bearable.
As I walked inside, I silently wished them a good evening and myself a hollow good night.