I get in the car to go buy the Times, belatedly. When the first drops hit my windshield, I decide to try Circle K before driving down to Ina. The town is half empty. And I need to get back to bring the outdoor cat in before the storm. They have the paper. While I pay for it and the twelve pack of Coca-Cola that I always buy there, I talk about the weather with the cashier. He's the one with the greenish eyes that seem a few shades too light for his complexion. "I remember how it floods here," I tell him, "when the water comes pouring down from the road," recalling a night in August, 2000, before our house was even built.
I would keep driving past, on the way home to the bed and breakfast that was my temporary residence, to see how things were holding out. Once the styrofoam insulation inside the frame blew out. That particular night I saw two rattlesnakes on the road in front of the subdivision before looping back up to Oracle. Sheets of water were surging underneath the door of the Circle K. I stopped to watch, fixated by the scene. It felt like a dream.
I come back to the present, startled by how far my mind has traveled in a matter of seconds. I was alone then too. Two weeks without another human being to regulate my clock. "I love this time of year," I say. The cashier nods. We wonder aloud whether the storms are going to reach this far today. "Some people complain about the humidity. Or just that they get wet," I add. He shrugs, tells me to type in my PIN. "I'll take this over the June heat any day."
I tuck the paper under one arm and the awkwardly shaped box of sodas under the other and start out the door, looking back over my shoulder at him. "I grew up back East. This is nothing." As I head out into the aggressive stillness, I remember when I found the term "Monsoon" humorously exaggerated. Have I shrunk to a smaller scale? Or am I just aware of details I once failed to register? It's rumbling in the distance.