It is pouring torrential buckets outside. Cats and dogs and rhinoceroses fall veritably from the sky. It is their proverbial howls that make the wind seem even louder, even wilder. Puddles form in the darkened driveway, in proportions of The Nile; thunder cracks it's whip menacingly, in the universal language of "Go back to bed, you idiot."
"It's letting up," she tells you brightly as she peeks out through the front window. "It's just a spring shower. I'm sure the sun will be out by the time that we get there."
You are dubious, yet unsurprised. You've heard this many, many times before. The sun is always waiting for her.
You have been caught in the storm of her optimism a million times. You have learned to pack a raincoat. A battery pack. Flares.
When you see the bright light at the end of the tunnel, it's almost always a train and it's speeding dangerously in your direction. But that bright light, to her, is always the sun. It is the comfort at the end of the night, it is just waiting to peek out from behind the clouds. Her brightness, it is always her brightness.
She's a walking idiom, this woman. Sometimes, she's a goddamn walking idiom. Every cloud has a silver lining, every glass is half full. Keep your chin up, love.
And on and on.
Some days, it's exhausting.
Of course, it's her brightness that made you fall in love in with her, you can't forget that. You were late to the first date, rushing into TGIFriday's, out of breath. Traffic was horrible, you exhaled loudly in apology, gritting your teeth for her reaction. You hear your mother's voice echoing in your ears, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
It's better that you were late, she told you, and exhaled with a smile. I had a drink to calm my nerves while I was waiting. I'm quite relaxed, now. There will be no initial awkwardness between us... Unless you count me saying this as awkward. And she laughed her big laugh and you knew, in the little time it took for her to tilt back her head, that it would be awkward for you the entire night, maybe for a very long time, because you would be spending the whole evening, desperate to hear her laugh again.
That laugh. It was low and deep, like the clink-clang of an ancient wind chime. And it's that sound, now, that makes your stomach do triple flips when you hear it ringing across a crowded room.
It was the sound of unreasonable buoyancy in the daily flood of living.
But it's her brightness, too, that makes you stop, first, at the pub on your way home from work after a particularly disastrous day. Your boss is breathing down your neck, your first quarter sales are dismal. Two of your people quit today. It's bad and you want to let it be bad for awhile. She can never just let it be.
Tomorrow will be better, she will say and you're not ready to digest this dose of optimism now. Two pints will dull the brightness, to the faint glow of a streetlight. You don't want to be comforted, you don't want to know it will all work out okay. It is futile to argue with this woman. Why must she always believe it will get better?
You can call it naiveté, she would call it hope. You can call it stubbornness, she would call it confidence.
It is unreasonable to be so hopeful, you will grumble. It is implausible to believe it will all turn out. She would not argue that, but she will not be shaken, either.
So, perhaps, she is often unreasonable. And finds plausibility, too easily, in the implausible. And she dreams up big adventures and drags you along on the climb. Scrabbling along behind her, up rocks, in the storm, down dead-end streets, only to stumble into the side doors of restaurants. This is how it feels to love an optimist.
And this is why you must drive to the beach in the rain, because she sees things that are not there.
Because when you walk in the door, after a dying day, with your tired eyes and receding hairline, she will listen to you bemoan today, but she is thinking about tomorrow. She sees your beautiful promise, your smile -- months away, in the late summer afternoon, sitting on the porch. Only happiest days ahead, she will tell you. Chin up.
You feel weak and self-loathing. You don't believe, you just can't see it.
But she sees brightness.
Because she sees things that are not there. THIS -- this is why you drive to the beach in the rain.