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Travel Flashback: The Blessings of Rain

It was only my second visit to Paris – my first going solo – and it rained.

Deep, rolling clouds filled the sky from horizon to horizon as I navigated the maze of tiny Left Bank streets to my hotel, tucked behind the St. Sulpice church. That evening there was only the threat of rain – some gusts of wind and some sprinkles – as I happily wandered along the banks of the Seine. And in the morning, it appeared that the bad weather had evaporated: the sun was out, the air was crisp, and I spent a pleasant morning exploring the Rue Cler market.

And then my luck ran out. The clouds returned, and this time it was no mere threat: the skies opened up and dumped curtains of driving rain on the Paris streets. My umbrella kept my head dry but I was quickly soaked up to my knees. I spent the next several hours dashing from church to café to church to café, guiltily leaving a trail of puddles in my wake. In the process, I discovered some beautiful, hidden churches that I would have otherwise missed and, to postpone the moment when I would have to go back out into the rain, allowed myself more time for quiet contemplation than a busy sightseeing schedule would normally accommodate. Late in the afternoon I squeezed myself into a tiny café table for an early dinner, my pant legs dripping quietly on the floor beneath me. And finally, when my shoes started to audibly squish, I conceded defeat and retreated to my hotel.

My hotel room faced a small inner courtyard that was draped in verdant, clinging vines. The narrow floor-to-ceiling windows opened to a tiny Juliet balcony. The room was too small even for a reading chair, so I peeled off my sopping clothes, stuffed my shoes with paper to (I hoped) dry them out by morning, and climbed into bed. I had lost a few precious hours to explore Paris, but listening to the steady patter of rain on the vines and the cooing of doves nesting somewhere near the open windows, it was hard to complain. I plotted out my plans for the next day, optimistic that it would be sunny, but knowing that it would be a good day, even if it rained.

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