Thank God for that rain out the window and for Mr. Clemente, who allowed us in ninth grade to listen to it for no reason, in the middle of the day. That one moment carried me a long way into my life.
I didn't know it then. At the time, I think, it made me a little nervous--it was too naked, too uncontrolled, too honest. I thought it odd. In those days I was watching my step, making sure I knew the rules, keeping things in control. I wore the same long, pleated skirt every day, blue cardigan sweater, oxford shoes, and carried a brown leather school bag, even while the other girls were wearing makeup, nylons, heels. I never felt that I fit in. . . . For fear that people would think I was weird--I saw no one around me I could identify with--I tried not to be noticed. I became a nerd. And here was Mr. Clemente who asked me to listen to the rain, to connect a sense organ with something natural, neutral, good. He asked me to become alive. I was scared, and I loved it.