Nice sunny day for a birthday party, we all thought, especially one for the esteemed Artist Previously And Still Known As Donna. She’s hosted some spectacular events before, right in the parking lot of her art gallery, complete with live bands of varied and interesting sorts. And the guests tend to be on the varied and interesting side also, on account of being arty themselves, or from having had artness smeared upon them from an early age.
Dave and I have our own artistic tendencies, or at least we’re on the spectrum, but we get the invite on account of being neighbors. Especially, neighbors who grow basil.
And so we made the big commute a half-block down the alley toward the sound of the band, and I glanced up and pointed at the eastern sky.
“Looks like rain,” Dave noted. To which I added: Hell. Looks like a thunderstorm.
Nobody here ever believes me when I say that, especially when all the competing weather apps agree it’s going to be sunny all day long, and especially when we hardly ever get thunderstorms, but they can gaze at their little screens all they want: I’m looking at the sky. And although there is no thunderhead visible, the sky looks purple, and it looks steep. That’s the only way I can say it: it looks steep. It’s got plans.
Don’t mess with a girl from northern Virginia.
We know our thunderstorms. Most of the summer it is stinky hot and stinky humid and then, at 4:30 in the afternoon, the sky looks purple and steep, and the wind kicks up, and it rains buckets, and it’s loud as hell, and it is the most refreshing thing ever, lightning: summers in northern Virginia will make a non-believer out of you. If it ups your chances of getting a thunderbolt slapped at you.
Down further south, I hear tell the kids chew on river banks for their minerals, but we were a little more upscale in Arlington, and we got what we needed by pressing our tongues on the screen door during the thunderstorm. You can taste the tang of it. Vitamin Hallelujah.
This is a town where, if you can summon the energy to peel yourself off the linoleum, you can pass an afternoon popping tar bubbles on the pavement. You can lose your thighs on a lawn chair. You can beg to be sent to the basement with the spiders.
Then the thunderstorm comes, and goes, and everything is fresh and wonderful for a moment, and then all the rain re-evaporates and pushes the humidity just past holy-shit percent. That air could support guppies, and you’d be advised to pack a snorkel for a walk around the block.
Donna’s party was swell. There were tent canopies set up for the shade. Then that steep purple sky leaned in, and suddenly everything not nailed down was westward bound. Everyone grabbed a tent pole and grinned. We don’t get that here much. Thunder. Lightning. Sweet beautiful summer water pouring right out of the sky, gobs of it, even sweeter for having eluded all prediction. We went home to watch the soak from our tower but we could hear the cheers from the parking lot at every boom. Donna’s guests were just fine. I imagine they were tent-pole-dancing. That’s what lightning will do to you, especially if you’re already arty.
Happy birthday, Donna, and thank you. Give Zeus my regards.