Two years ago, I had the luck to live and work for three months in Rome, the capital city of Italy. My stay was from October until Christmas time, and people who had been to Rome before told me how lucky I was to be able to be there during the most beautiful time of year.
When I left Ottawa at the end of September, the temperature was quickly dropping, and I could see the beginning of autumn colour in the trees. But when I reached Rome, it was still summer there. The sun was strong, the air was hot, and I walked around the city in a few T-shirts that I had brought with me (I had mostly packed for autumn and winter).
Coming from a place where a bright sunshine was rare and cherished, I was delighted to see the golden sunlight and the blue sky greeting us almost every day. Over the first month of my stay, I became used to having them in my daily life to such an extent that I almost forgot about the other kinds of weather.
It was early November. One morning, my airbnb host told me that it was going to rain that day. “Make sure you bring an umbrella with you.” I appreciated her advice, but didn’t think much of it, thinking of rain as a light shower that would pass in no time. And I forgot to bring my umbrella with me. As I left home that morning, all I saw was the bright sun and the blue sky.
Later that afternoon, I went out to eat dinner with other people. I noticed that the sky was covered with clouds, and soon it started to rain. But I still didn’t think much of it, thinking that it would pass by the time we finished dinner.
When we came out of the restaurant, however, I was astonished to see the pouring rain hitting the ground like sharp arrows. Even to my optimistic eyes, it did not look possible to make it home safely under this weather without any protection. A kind friend offered to lend me an emergency raincoat. I thanked her many times before wearing it and stepping into the battle field.
Everything was managed until when I reached the nearest Metro station. I would have loved to take a bus, but there was no way I could stand and wait for a bus in this pouring rain. So, I started to walk.
Boy, I had never encountered such amount of rain in my life! Or more precisely, I had never walked under such torrential rain without an umbrella. The emergency raincoat protected my skin from getting wet, but there was no protection for my eyesight. The water poured down my face like a river, and I couldn’t even keep my eyes open. It was more like swimming in a pool than walking in rain. I even gasped for air. There was nobody else walking outside on a crazy evening like this.
With many breaks under the roofs of shopfronts, I finally made it home. Water was dripping from all over my body. My airbnb host was mortified when she saw me. “You take shower immediately!” This time, I followed her advice right away.
As I took shower, the song “It Never Rains in Southern California” played loop in my mind. Ever since I heard the song for the first time, I’d always wondered about the kind of rain they sang about when they said “it pours, man, it pours.” I finally found the answer in Rome that night.