It was early September. I was caught between a rock and a hard place—the rock being a mom loudly debating the redeeming qualities of two different brands of air freshener, the hard place being the check-out line of the Bed Bath & Beyond in Providence Place Mall, the relief being the impulse purchasing of a $25 umbrella.
I say impulse buy, but I had actually yearned for this umbrella for quite a while. It was made of clear, durable plastic domed over a mushroom shaped frame, and I had heard them referred to as “bubble” umbrellas. I found it to be whimsical yet practical (which is a descriptor I sort of mold my entire being around). It was impulsive in the sense that I hadn’t been planning to stumble upon something I had hoped for in such a random place. I didn’t expect to buy in so cavalierly to something that I had exalted in my mind.
And yet. I bought it. And I used it. We shared a few brief drizzly days together, meandering the cobblestone sidewalks and taking in the aromas of freshly wetted dirt—sweet and green and alive. We walked over puddles that mirrored the outstretched limbs of trees. We ducked in and out of coffee shops and classrooms, sitting side by side in functional partnership.
And then. I lost my beloved umbrella.
It had been a long day, full of cough drops and two-and-a-half-hour classes and social isolation in the bowels of the Rock. And in the exhaustion and muddled emotion of being a sophomore in college with a reoccurring emo phase, I forgot and left behind my bubble umbrella, abandoned in the nook behind the desk where I had stowed it.
I didn’t realize my atrocity, my betrayal, my disloyal blunder until hours later. My personal failure dawned on me moments before midnight, as I showered the day’s sins away in the small cubicle of a dorm shower.
Clad in my pajamas and an oversized denim jacket, I made the trek in light drizzle to Salomon to rescue my beloved. The irony of the current precipitation was not lost on me, and I allowed myself to fantasize, only for a second, about my victorious walk home, reunited with my umbrella and protected from the rain.
But alas, the classroom was emptied of people and umbrellas. In my dreary walk back to Wriston, I mourned and celebrated the life of the Bubble. I couldn’t help but think an umbrella this cool wasn’t meant to last in my life. The umbrella was out of my league in a game I wasn’t even sure I wanted to play.
An umbrella this cool deserves commitment. I had just complained about its bulk to someone earlier, bemoaning the space it took up in my life compared to other relatively smaller umbrellas, ones that neatly clicked into a compact bundle I could conceal in my backpack rather than carry at all times. I complained about the effort required to maintain the Bubble’s presence in my life, while taking for granted the joy it brought me. I wanted the delight of the thing without the obligation to it. I guess if there’s any silver lining here, it’s that I had the luck of knowing that umbrella at all. I just feel foolish for thinking that I ever had the right to lay claim to such a brazen and untamed soul.
Sad Sophomore Umbrella Girl