The drops fell hard, the gift of angry clouds. The streets quickly began to flood. I watched from the safety of my apartment as the bike lane turned to a small river. The wakes bikers kicked up lapped against the curb. I took in the dreary scene and drank my coffee in contemplative solitude.
The clouds reminded me of a day years ago. I was living in Seoul at the time, just moved there in fact. I’d moved in the middle of October, so this memory was probably towards the end of that month or the start of the next. The excitement of living in a new place, and such a cool one at that, was burning in my heart. The weather, though, was quickly moving towards winter.
My walk to work was 13 minutes. I once inadvertently timed it to a Fela Kuti song. I started the song as I exited my apartment building and noticed the strange coincidence as it finished as I walked into my job. That 13 minutes started walking down my small lane, across and to the left down a smallish street, a right on a more more major street, down a hill, under an overpass to the pedestrian side of the overpass, onto a walkway on a bridge over a small river, down back on to city streets, across a triangle junction and into a pedestrian area full of buildings.
When the weather was good it was a great walk. Even in Winter, the morning cold was an odd mix of invigorating and bitter. Snow was great, just for the laugh, but the bridge got icy was fuck. The river below froze over in the winter, though I never dared to cross that way. The rain, though, could get a bit rough. There was little cover on the city streets part, and zero on the bridge. Cars would splash by too- I was soaked from hairline to shoe tip on a couple of occasions.
The grey pale of the sky takes me back to the first such walk. I was on my way to work, again in mid fall, just after I arrived. The rain was driving and inescapable. As if by miraculous circumstances my phone, on shuffle, chose to play a song called ‘Rain’ by my hometown’s own Tech N9ne. The intersection of these two events made me audibly laugh. Perhaps it was just laughing at the universe, perhaps it was laughing in the face of the lashing waves of rain. I walked to work alive in my soaked clothes, almost enjoying the cold wind as it turned me to a popsicle. I sloshed with glee in my shoes, now oceanic in nature, over the waves of water kicked up by passing cars.
I kept the song on repeat the whole way. The connection was far too strange, far too perfect to let it play just once. Who knows what the next song could have been anyways, no need to test fate unnecessarily.
Now in the dry of my apartment watching warm summer rains, as opposed to fighting through their antipodal cousins, I am transported back. Though dry I could almost feel the damp and smell the rain. The memory is seared into me. I couldn’t tell you what day it was, or what I did the rest of the day in any detail beyond ‘worked.’ I couldn’t tell you much at all about the weeks before or after. But that moment, that 13 minute walk, lives in my mind as if it was this very morning.
And when again the fates play that song on shuffle or it comes up some way, I am incapable of being anywhere other than that moment- blissfully walking in the rain on a grey fall day in Seoul.