There are some days when the rain is so fierce that it is not rain at all, but rather like the all the lakes and rivers of the world are falling from the sky right on top of you. This past Friday was such a day.
SJ, D2, and I set off on our trek from Stern to Penn Station in a gray world with a damp breeze. On occasion, a few droplets of water would sprinkle onto our faces, but as we walked, these droplets became more like fully-grown drops and their descents occurred more frequently than "on occasion." By the time we were halfway there, the sky had begun to dump its entire watery contents onto New York City.
For those unfamiliar with summers in New York, they go something like this: Nice Day. Hot day. Humid day. Very humid day. Very, very humid day. So-humid-it's-like-walking-through-sticky-swaths-of-hot-cotton-candy day. Stormy day filled with drenching, torrential rains, blinding flashes of lightening, and thunder so deafening it sounds like the sky's going to crash to earth any minute. The next day is a beautiful one, and the cycle begins again.
Although we have yet to reach summer, the rain which drowned our feet that day might as well have been an early summer visitor. SJ and I each had umbrellas, but the wind had decided to whip mine backwards into a position that was utterly useless. My hair, my shirt, my skirt, and my feet became completely drenched. I only hoped the contents of the suitcase I was dragging were still dry.
By the time we three got to Penn Station, our clothes were sticking to us in that uncomfortable way that wet clothes do and our hair hung limp and bedraggled. I could feel water squishing around in my shoes.
In such circumstances, a person may tend to feel bogged down by her wetness. I certainly felt that way. We had only four minutes until our train and we still had to buy tickets, but for some reason I could only shuffle my feet slowly around the train station. Everything around me, in fact, was operating on a slower, wetter system.
There were long lines by each ticket machine, but somehow both SJ and I managed to get a turn. I got tickets for D2 and myself, but SJ's machine was broken. We had no time for her to try on my machine, however, so we ran to our platform with one minute to go, stumbled clumsily (and wetly) down the stairs, and threw ourselves onto the first car of the train just before the doors closed behind us.
The train was a Double Decker, and for a moment we stood there in wet confusion, wondering where the seats were.
"Shall we go up or down?" I finally managed through chattering teeth. The others must have been too wet or bewildered or both, for they each mumbled something that didn't sound very much like a suggestion.
"Up, then," I decided for them and we all traipsed up the steps, shivering in our sopping clothes. Unluckily, there was nowhere for us to sit, so we had to stand until we reached Jamaica. That was where we had to switch.
I called my dad at that point to ask if he was also on the train. Then we could get a ride home from the train station. He wasn't, but he said he was on another train that was also switching at Jamaica, so we decided to meet up.
At Jamaica, we met my father and made the switch easily. Our next train had seats for us, but not together, so D2 went to sit in one area while SJ sat in another. "We're getting off at ---" I told them just in case we got separated, for it was a different stop than the one we were originally going to on our first train. Then I stood for a bit near D2 because I felt too wet to sit, but SJ finally convinced me to sit with her. I suppose that was when things went a bit awry.
Looking back on it, I don't think D2 noticed that I was no longer standing near her. When the train pulled into our stop, SJ and I got off the train, along with my father. As I got off, I looked around for D2 but couldn't find her anywhere.
"Is someone supposed to get off the train with you?" asked a man from my community. I nodded.
"What's her name?"
"D2," I said.
He poked his head back in the train and called out, "D2!"
But no one answered and the doors were closing.
As the train pulled away, SJ and I both took out our phones to call her. And we both noticed we had text messages from her asking if we were going to the stop our initial train, before we met up with my father, was going to. We looked at each other.
"Oh no," we said.
"What happened to D2?" asked my father. "Was she sleeping?"
I shrugged. "What's the next stop?" I asked. "Because that's where she's going."
SJ called D2, who told her what the next stop was. Then, still wet (though it was no longer raining), we trudged to my father's car and drove off to pick up D2.
Ten minutes later, D2 was found and in the car with us.
"When we get home, we should all have hot chocolate," I said.
"Ooh, yes!" exclaimed D2.
When I was taking a writing class at Stern, my stories frequently ended in everyone going home to have hot chocolate. SJ called these "hot chocolate endings." I figured we all deserved our own hot chocolate ending.
As soon as we got home, SJ, D2, and I ran up to my room to change our clothes. SJ, already wearing a light blue shirt that was mostly dry, borrowed a pastel pink skirt from me. Looking in the mirror, she exclaimed, "I look like ice cream!"
D2, meanwhile, had discovered that an air mattress was piled on top of my bed so that the whole thing looked like the set of The Princess and the Pea. She climbed on top and curled up. SJ and I, thinking this was a fun activity, climbed up with her. But after a little while, I remembered about the hot chocolate.
"Oh yeah, let's go have hot chocolate!" said D2, when I reminded her.
We all slid off the piled mattresses and bounded down the stairs.
"Do we have any hot chocolate?" I asked Mavis, who, like most teenage boys, was lurking around in the kitchen. We usually did have hot chocolate, but I wasn't sure if we had gotten any since Pesach.
"I don't think so," said Mavis. "But you can always use Ovaltine!"
So we tried the Ovaltine. The issue with that was we couldn't use the instant hot water on our sink. We had to actually heat up milk.
"Maybe we shouldn't," I said, glancing around the kitchen that had various Shabbos cooking activities going on in it.
"Aw, why not?" asked D2. I hesitated.
"We can just warm it up in the microwave," suggested SJ.
"Okay," I said. "But...in what?"
"Can you microwave mugs?"
"Sure! We do it all the time in my house."
So I got down three mugs.
"Wait, girls, why don't you try these?" suggested my father, taking down some Styrofoam cups. I felt more comfortable using those and took them readily. SJ and D2 each poured themselves a cup of milk and put the cups in the microwave.
I waited for them to be finished but D2 kept putting hers back in.
Finally, it was my turn. I decided that instead of putting it in and out a million times, I'd just put my cup in for a full four minutes.
I suppose no one really paid much attention to what I was doing, because no one stopped me. SJ and D2 were busy with their cups of hot chocolate. I waited around for my cup of milk to finish microwaving.
As I waited, I did other things. I went upstairs to get something. I talked to SJ and D2. Mavis and I spent some quality time bothering each other. And then I decided to check out how my cup of milk was doing.
The first thing I saw when I looked over at the microwave was a steamy door and lots of white behind it.
You know that feeling where you suddenly feel the blood rushing around in your head? Shabbos was in less than an hour and I thought for a moment that I had broken the microwave.
After my feet unstuck from the floor, I shakily pressed the "stop" button and pulled open the door. A large circle of white liquid lapped up against an empty Styrofoam cup in greeting.
When I panic, I am generally overcome with a slow-moving, intense calm. I suddenly know exactly what to do, and what I knew most of all in that situation was that there was no reason my mother had to come into the kitchen until the milk was all cleaned up.
I became almost devilish about it.
"Should I take a picture?" I asked SJ.
"Yes!" she grinned. "It's like illustrated milk!"
I giggled and ran to get my camera.
Before long, I had both taken a picture of the milky masterpiece and had cleaned it all up. It was quite easy to clean, too.
"Here, let's try again," said D2, grabbing hold of the Styrofoam cup.
I looked at her incredulously, nearly started laughing again, and shook my head.
"I think I've had enough experimenting with milk for now," I said.
So I did not get my hot chocolate ending.
But I did get some illustrated milk. Oh, and a great story.