March rain sheeted across Highway 101 in such ridiculously daunting waves that no technology known to the universe could keep a person from becoming drenched after sprinting 20 feet from a vehicle to a restaurant. Meteorology has no term for this type of rain. Deluge is totally inadequate.
She was barely wearing any clothes, certainly not a coat. Coats do impair mystery sometimes. I don't think she owned one.
There was a distinct possibility the storm would blow her polka-dotted dress right off her nimble body. I wanted to see that. Who doesn't? Rain equals attractive skin, and umbrellas are the chastity belt of the Oregon Coast. I have heard that eunuchs love them, too.
A week earlier, she had magically appeared out of Newport rain on my birthday and helped obliterate the residual longing for a woman of the sun who dumped me from California dreaming. She came bearing a piece of writing that she said I inspired her to write. She had no idea it was my birthday. We hadn't seen each other for two years, or perhaps three.
I read the piece right in front of her, as rain pounded the windows of the Barge Inn on the Bayfront.I'll never forget her wordlessly placing her hand on the glass and tracing raindrops trickling down the pane. It was about the most sensual indoor thing of nature I'd ever seen in my life, and she had no idea she was doing it. I think I subconsciously conceived the idea of a weatherless book on rain right there.
The piece was about the desire to become a writer, and it astonished me with its passion and quality. We talked and talked and drank black beer. I loved her laugh and love of dives like the Barge Inn, self-proclaimed home of "winos and dingbats." She was transmitting life on so many frequencies that I couldn't tune all of them in, although I was trying.
Our unique yet finite collaboration began that afternoon, in rain, and now we were sitting inside my truck parked in front of the Lucky Thai Elephant restaurant in Newport and laughing at the prospect of how wet we would become after a three-second dash to the front door.
There was no way she wasn't going with me, although I did offer to retrieve the order myself.
The sprint commenced. We ran together in rain and burst into the restaurant as if hitting the tape together at the end of an Olympic 100-meter final. She won. The dress survived, barely.
I paid the check and she gathered up the bags. I beat her back to the truck and we instantly fogged up the cab. I blasted on the heater and she sampled the shrimp.
This was our first date.
Rain would not define us. In fact, my most vivid memory of her is of the sun and that same skimpy dress coming off before we dived naked into the ocean, which of course is full of rain. But that is another story.
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Matt Love is the author/editor of 10 books about Oregon. He lives in South Beach and teaches creative writing and journalism at Newport High School. His latest book is Of Walking in Rain.
Books mentioned in this post
Matt Love is the author of Of Walking in Rain