The light turned red, so I stepped out of the passenger seat of the car. I stepped into a puddle below the curb. My shoe and sock were partially soaked. I was going over in my mind how today was going to be irritating. I had physical education first period. I was proud of my outfit today. I wore a black rain jacket. Underneath, a plaid blue flannel under a grey cardigan with black pants and a scarf. Not many guys wore scarfs at my high school. It was raining. That made everything bearable.
I walked along the sidewalk until I turned right into the parking lot. A boy had crossed the street before I turned, and was walking in front of me. He was walking slowly. He wore a blue long-sleeve shirt with jeans and glasses. His earbuds were protruding from his collar, into his ears. He held a substantial umbrella above him.
The rain was comforting. It was warm. The rain let me embrace sadness. It let me hold onto emotion, and sit with it. It was comforting knowing I would have that friend by my side all day long, even if we were separated by windows. I appreciated it, and I think it appreciated me. I’m not sure what made me feel that.
After physical education, I would try to put on my outfit and be confident. My confidence had been a tide lately; in and out, pushing and pulling. I couldn’t parade my clothes because I got so warm and sweaty in physical education, so I knew I would become disappointed. I had to deal with it.
It was so simple. Such a plain thing that changed my perspective. On what, I don’t know yet. Life I guess? That sounds silly, pathetic. I’m just a teenager. What do I know. About life, about struggles, about the world. So vast, so deep. A simple act of kindness. It changed my outlook on this rainy, warm, sweaty, irritating day. It became a friendly place, instead of somewhere I dreaded. Maybe I dreaded the constriction, the wholly trapped feeling of school. If everyone experienced an act of simple, involuntary kindness, the world would collectively be happier. More forgiving. United.
He was walking slowly, as if just enjoying the experience of walking. Something so regular. I was walking right behind him at this point. I had no hood, so I was squinting into the rain, shielding my eyes. He turned his head, looked at me, and offered up the side of his umbrella. No words. No expression. Just extended it a few inches towards me. I stepped under the umbrella. We walked slowly into school. Two minutes. We didn’t look at each other. We didn’t speak. We just were. I had to walk a different way. I grabbed his shoulder. He looked at me, I looked into his eyes, and said ‘thank you’. He nodded his head and continued his somber walk to into the campus. I walked away with a stupid, grateful smile on my face.