Have you seen the movie Zombieland? If so, you may recall one of the opening scenes where humans and zombies alike are running every which direction in utter chaos. People scream as they zigzag through the mangled street. Zombies moan. It’s not my usual type of movie, but—fun fact of the day—my sister-in-law made an appearance in the film so of course I had to check it out. This was similar to the scene I found myself in yesterday after leaving my Chelsea office in a freakishly monsoon-like hail storm. Minus the zombies, thank goodness.
I didn’t bring my umbrella to work yesterday (the sun was out all morning!) but if I had, I’m convinced it wouldn’t have been much use. The office I’m freelancing from this week and next is five blocks from the Harold Square subway station, so I joined the flock of surprised New Yorkers caught mid-rainstorm in intermittently running through crosswalks and finding momentary shelter under crowded awnings. Within minutes, I was soaked to my skivvies and waded in puddles that reached my shins. I might as well have taken a shower in my ankle-length dress.
Besides concern for my laptop (which, I’m happy to report, was well-protected in my unfashionable-but-necessary “incase” shoulder bag), running through the flooded streets of Manhattan was exhilarating. And amusing. And oddly satisfying. I’m not totally clear why people were screaming as they speedily clamored to their destinations, but perhaps the element of surprise had something to do with it. Who checked the weather? It hadn’t rained all month.
On the F train, a puddle formed beneath my feet and a homeless man pointed out that my mascara had effectively traced the sides of cheeks. I received sympathetic looks from fellow passengers who somehow managed to escape the torrential waters, and had probably been riding the train long enough to be unaware of the chaos unfolding above ground. One stop closer to Brooklyn, another woman in a similar soggy condition boarded and struck up conversation. In a city where making eye contact on the subway is a cardinal sin, it was nice to meet a stranger, to have a companion for the wet ride home.
How interesting that unexpected circumstances—even unfavorable ones—can bring a smile to your face and dissolve the imaginary fortress we’ve built around ourselves. What untapped joy would I find if I let myself be surprised more often? If I held life more loosely and welcomed fleeting moments with strangers, however messy, inconvenient, and unplanned. Is that the true meaning of hospitality?
[Photo of yesterday’s storm cloud from msnbc photo blog.]
I’ve been letting a new blog idea percolate since moving to Brooklyn. Last week, I launched Hello Teaspoon, a blog dedicated to reclaiming the DIY kitchen—a gluten-free one, that is.
Filled mainly with recipes and writing about food, the collaborative blog is open for submissions! Read the manifesto, check out my kitchen lust, and gather inspiration to get crafty in your own kitchen. As a side project, I’m not sure how dedicated I’ll be to keeping her lubed up with daily content, but with one week down, I’m gaining a bit of momentum.