I remembered to bring my umbrella today, the one I got at Walgreens in Riverdale, between the 1 train and the Bx10 bus when I was already soaked through my jeans. It’s periwinkle and looks like it got inverted by the wind, but it came that way. I remembered to bring it with me to walk to the train, but it won’t close once I got inside the station. I inelegantly bring it through the turnstile with me, lifting it above my head, above the narrow passageway. The handle contracts, but the umbrella part of the umbrella stays expanded, and it looks absurd, and by extension, so do I.
I approach a woman by the subway platform; she is wearing a patterned brown headscarf and gold hoop earrings. Bashfully, I point out what’s troubling me and hand her the umbrella, passing it over to her, like a wounded bird, injured and inconvenient. I am like a helpless child nagging her mother about her empty plastic baggie of Cheerios while they’re driving on the freeway. She has no responsibility toward me. And here she is, holding my umbrella and examining it, and I want to take it from her hands and throw it onto the tracks, or at least take it back and tell her to forget about it. It was never hers to fix.
She struggles to close it, maintaining a calm facade, and gives up when it’s clear she has no help to offer. “No worries,” I reassure her, and I want to cry for some reason. “It happens sometimes.”
I twist the handle in desperate frustration and it somehow clicks shut, mocking me, as though it had always been that simple.
The security guard in Chelsea is patient with me, while I stubbornly fumble with the recalcitrant umbrella, in line for the elevator to Floor Eight, just in time for my internship, unsatiated by my banana on the train. The security guard looks at me with kind eyes, concerned. Pitying. I hand the embarrassing object to him and it drips rainwater on his suit. I am ashamed of my umbrella and the spectacle it is causing me, the attention. “Sorry, I’m so sorry,” I supplicate. “It happens sometimes.”
And on my way out of the office, as I’m untangling my headphones and trying to call my Bubbie and get my Metrocard out and decide what to scarf down ravenously when I get home, my umbrella opens too easily to not have a catch. Of course not. Instead, as I try to close it to get on the subway, the umbrella somehow inverts completely, and then detaches from its handle. And I realize it just is not going to work out today. It happens sometimes.
I take one last glance at my truly nebach (pathetic) umbrella, abandoned, in a New York City garbage can. Poor thing. We’ve all been there, umbrella, oh yes, my sister.
Today I remembered to bring my umbrella. And then I bid it farewell and went home empty-handed and couldn’t get back in bed quite fast enough. Oh, it happens sometimes.