When it’s not raining

Drum, drum. Drum, drum. Drum, drum. Drum, drum. ”That’s the end of summer”, he thought, listening to the droplets hit the tin roof. Rain hitting the tin roof sounded like nothing else. It was difficult to describe, yet immediately recognizable. Just like seeing the face of a good friend after the longest of times: you wouldn’t be able draw it, but on seeing him, would recognize him immediately, unmistakably. That at least was his perception of rain hitting tin roof. But this morning would be different. In about fifteen minutes he would learn that at it could rain and not rain at the same time.

Having gotten out of bed, obliged by custom, commanded by his bladder and moved by his feet, he found himself in the bathroom. He splashed some water on his eyes, starting the usual ritual. Brushing his teeth, sitting on the toilet bowl, doing hardly anything but observing as his body, as having been taught over the years, carried out the usual, first of the many daily maintenance cycles. Towards the end of this 10-minute ritual he had a fresh taste in his mouth, a smooth chin and his hair under control. The fresh taste of toothpaste eluded him. It was not mint, it was not pepper and it certainly wasn’t peppermint nor was it any other imaginable flavor that one usually encounters. It was just pure fresh.

Consciously he was still doing the usual quality checks on his body, mostly from the neck up, to make sure nothing had been overlooked by his normally trustworthy autopilot. On a few occasions a minor oversight had occurred, like a few hairs pointing wildly from the side of his head, or an unshaven spot on his chin. But on a drowsy Sunday, it would not matter. He would be spending the day mostly alone, and even the few planned encounters with well-established acquaintances did not require a final polish. Appearing a bit unfinished would even give a desirable air of carelessness, a feel of being free from binding, arbitrary social norms, a way to subtly, but clearly, question them, to say: “I know the rules and at the moment I do not care to follow them.”.

It was not on Sundays that he liked openly questioning the social norms and standards. He had no problem showing up only half-groomed and wearing jeans and a t-shirt even during an official meeting at work, although others would be appearing in black suits and having their faces dripping from cologne. “Whose business is it anyway, if I shave or not? As long as I do not smell bad, am not unpleasant to look at and, most important of all, treat others with respect, no one should have any objections regarding the single aspects of my appearance.”

“Our society is a bit strange in that sense, over-emphasizing presumably good appearances, both physical and personal. Present an unconventional, but well-justified and an already tested business concept in scruffy jeans and an old t-shirt, with uncombed hair and a hint of sweat from all the nights you spent working, and you will only get an awkward smile with a polite request to leave.. But march in, surrounded by cloud of expensive perfume, wearing a tailored suit, shining calfskin shoes on your feet and with your face smooth and young looking, and top that with good rhetoric and a few impressive graphics accompanied by well-selected, meaningless jargon. Anyone will buy the incomprehensible initial idea of a gamifying sales software you are selling, even if you admit to being a fraud. Support that all with a vision of revolutionizing the customer’s industry, and you can already feel the money falling from your pockets as you are walking to the bank. And if you on of top good looks and clairvoyance have an elevator pitch that will make potential investors jump out of their pants right to the top floor, making all the machinery used for hoisting people redundant, you might as well already decide to retire and start enjoying your hard earned millions.”

He liked tangible, real work, as he put it. He saw nothing wrong with all the new businesses popping up, and he certainly liked many of the new amenities enabled by new technology. What he did not like was the fact that something could be sold and would be bought just because it was allegedly new. New was not always better. Sometimes new wasn’t even as good at the present. And not everything presented as new was in fact new. But he was not in the mood for drawing a real argument against all that nonsense. “It’s a crazy world.” That would suffice, at least this Sunday

He took his way to his living room, which was not that far located from the bathroom. In a two and a half room apartment you cannot exit a room without entering one. You have no corridors, no place to be in transit. You are always somewhere specifically. Fortunately, life was not like that. You could be in transit, both physically and mentally: at the airport waiting for a flight, at work going through the corridor to your colleague’s office, on a sabbatical between two university degrees. You could decide to enter a transit and take a break. But in a small apartment you had no transit zones. Another question was, if such transit zones were even needed, but now he had other things in his mind. Actually he had very little in his mind, apart from finishing the morning maintenance cycle by letting the air flow though his apartment and take away the remains of the night and let the new day in.

On opening the living room window he, as expected, heard the rain pouring down and hitting the ground below. It was a relaxing sound. Directly he went to his bedroom to open the window there and provide ventilation through the whole apartment, through both rooms. He opened the bedroom window, heard nothing and became confused: “It’s not raining?” he thought. “This is strange. Two rooms, side by side, with windows on the same wall, not 10 meters apart from one another, and yet behind only one of them it is raining.”

He went again to the living room to make sure he had seen and heard right. After all, even after a meticulous morning routine of preparing his body for the day, his mind might still have been sleeping, depicting rain where there was none, or failing to see any falling water drops. By the open living room window he stretched out his hand. Confirming his expectations drops of water fell onto his forearm and slid down towards his fingertips. Looking down he also saw rain drops hitting the top of the car parked by the house, and the leaves in the bushes on the neighboring lot giving way, as they were gently being struck in high tempo as if a thousand drummers had been at work. Turning back and heading to the bedroom, he was now sure that it was raining. Or at least he was sure it was raining outside of his living room window. Actually, he was only relatively sure that he had felt and seen water dropping down from the sky outside of his living room window. For final confirmation, he quickly returned from the bedroom door to the living room and stuck his head out of the window. Looking to the left, in the direction of the bedroom window he felt both relieved and yet puzzled. It was raining, also in front of his bedroom window, at least from this perspective. So he was right in thinking that it was raining, at least here, outside of his living room.

To avoid getting wetter than necessary he pulled his head back and trotted back to the bedroom. There he also first stretched his arm out of the window, anticipating water hitting his skin. Standing there with his arm still dry, he reached a bit further out: maybe the eaves of the roof were blocking the rain. Now he was already leaning with his waist against the windowsill, his other arm keeping him from falling, but he could neither see, hear nor feel any rain. He looked at the lot opposite to his house and the plants there were oblivious of anything that could have been moving their leaves, not to mention a thousand drummers giving them a steady, gentle beat. The car below was also dry and, turning his head to the right, he saw, although he did not know what he was expecting to see, dry air. No drops of water falling down, no small beads of moisture leisurely making their way through the air, not even a thin fog floating around. There was no trace of water in the air, or on the ground for that matter. Looking out of his bedroom window, he couldn’t have deduced, when had been the last time it had rained. The front of his living room window, seen looking out from his bedroom window, was clear of any water, none in the air, none running down the windows, none trickling off of the window ledge.

He slowly stepped back from the window, closed it and sunk in to his thoughts. “When is it raining then? And where? If it is, that is.” Questioning his latest observations, also considering possible deficits his state of awareness or mental health, he tried to understand, what was it then, that he had just witnessed, or maybe hadn’t, he was not sure