Life on the road may be different from what it seems to those at home. True, one sees things with one’s own eyes that would otherwise only be caught on TV: soccer riots, political conventions, airport security breaches, strange weather, celebrities, flower festivals, strikes, protests, exhibitions, and parades. One also gets caught in things that would otherwise only be seen on TV. Hurricane Hanna, for example.

Back in the States in September 2008, I was spending a few days in New York taking care of musical business between concert engagements. I realized I’d need to return some shoes I’d bought there a couple of months before. I also realized that, although the shoes were in my suitcase, I had left the boxes at my parents’ place and the receipt elsewhere. So my parents put the empty shoeboxes in the mail, a friend sent my receipt, and I was set to pick everything up from another friend’s apartment last night – all packed into one big shipping box. The apartment was about a 15-minutes’ walk from where I’m staying, in an area of town that’s not too big on taxis. The fringe of Hurricane Hanna had hit several hours before, but when it was time to go, the rain had nearly stopped. I didn’t have an umbrella, so I put on my all-purpose boots (New York City puddles are gritty and oily) and baseball-style cap, and headed out. I’d decided against my waterproof jacket – the storm looked to be done for the evening.


I arrived at my friend’s apartment with water leaking through my hat’s brim and my clothes damp. In the time it took to get a little apartment tour, slightly repack the box, replace its tape, and chat for a few minutes, Hanna gained confidence. By the time I stepped outside for the return jaunt, rain was pouring as if from buckets. Within a minute, I was sopped. Halfway, I felt like a wet cat. A few blocks from my destination, the box started to cave in and I was dripping like the streetlamps. People waiting for buses and under eaves called out to ask if I needed help. The box was light, though, and it was nighttime and New York, so I soldiered on alone. In the elevator up to my room, I noticed that I wasn’t leaving much of a puddle behind, but my feet were suspiciously wet. All the water was running down inside my boots! When I took off those boots, the tops of my toes were the only part of me that was dry. You’d think I would have been miserable. But I love rain. I’ve been known to run out and dance in downpours – not the smartest thing in a thunderstorm, but awfully fun and refreshing.

Once I dried off, I bundled up in towels and watched “House” for the rest of the evening. I don’t think I’d slept so well in months. I woke up to the sun shining in the window. I returned those shoes that next day.