It was raining this morning so I wore a dark sweater, ignored my hair and makeup-less face, and made an extra cup of coffee. I excused myself from leaving the house and when the sun emerged into mid afternoon, I shut the blinds and pulled out my book with intent to finish, in complete denial of the too early end of my rainy day palooza. I read until my head was dizzy with words and I had to squint to find my spot on each turning page and I felt more a part of my book than an active participant in my own life. The book was Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, and the chapter I found my pen underlining and my shaking over caffeinated fingers folding pages from, was called Box of Rain. Box of Rain, a phrase I had never heard of, but learned is a grateful dead song, and a logical symbol of Oregon (like Oregon is a box of rain itself you know). In the chapter, Cheryl found this guy in Ashland on her three week break from hiking or whatever and that had this quick and fiery 22 hour date. It was perfect and empty at the same time. It was an ideal setting, a gorgeous farm and luxurious tent and then a beachy fling, full of honey and sand. He didn’t answer her questions though and he didn’t ask her any of his own and he didn’t want the pretty little rocks she had collected on the beach (while she was wandering away thinking of another man, much farther in proximity but closer in heart). When she left that little fleeting and infinite moment she felt satisfied and empty at the same time, like she didn’t realize what she wanted until she didn’t get it. I impulsively grabbed my phone after I read the last couple lines, as if I had her number or even access to it and could rant and ramble to her about how I knew what she meant. I had lived so many of the same 22 hours, obviously in a different place, with a different man, but still the same. Mine was older than me too, charming, but elusive, so much to say about music but not a question regarding me. Mine made me feel special and safe and excited, but left me with the same exquisite emptiness. I never knew anyone who understood those tiny and simultaneously infinite 22 hour dates before or anyone who knew what I meant when I said something I hadn’t even wanted out of the situation was missing, and all of a sudden the words were in front of me as if I wrote them. I hadn’t realized I never wrote about that before, such a strong feeling that frequented my life. I wrote about the magical fleeting goodness, but left out the empty afterwards, when I shouldn’t have. I shouldn’t have left out the half hearted goodbyes and the look he made the day someone asked if I was his girlfriend. I shouldn’t have left out the one word text messages that made me uneasy or the messages from his ex. I shouldn’t have left out the part where I told him maybe I shouldn’t see him anymore because I liked him too much and he didn’t put up a fight or offer to give me what I needed, or the part where I wrote my name on the whiteboard in his kitchen as a clue for the other girl I had an odd feeling was in his life, to let her know she wasn’t the only one. I Shouldn’t have left out the part where he started seeing her for real and gave her everything that I had wanted and never got from our strange situation. I shouldn’t have left out the stomach ache I got when they finally broke up and I walked into the house they had lived in together, or the way he stopped looking me in the eye and changed the subject if things got too serious. I shouldn’t have left out the tears that blurred my vision on our way out of the bar the night she was there at the same time and he was more concerned with how she felt about it than with the fact that my heart was in my stomach. I shouldn’t have left out all of the fake laughter and wrong feeling sunshine and unsaid words that made up the next day. I shouldn’t have left any of it out because what if somebody is reading my writing someday in search of the same full and empty feeling I found in Box of Rain? Well now, I guess, they have it. I know it’s silly how in a book about so many things, hiking 1,000 miles and death and divorce and self discovery, I pull out the one chapter in which she goes out and gets wine buzzed and finds some hot hippy to kiss, but whether it be homey or foreign or both, in a way, something has always drawn me to all the various meanings of a box of rain, and so maybe it will to someone else too.



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