The weather, my dear friends, has been savage today. It’s been raining, but what’s more, it has been cold and windy and raining, which makes everything so much worse. It’s gone past the romance of rain slapping window panes, has skipped over Brontean moor weather. It is officially savage outside. You get one step onto your doorstep, pause to hear the inhale, and are almost blown backwards by the exhale of water and wind. Clothes wrap soggily around ankles and wrists and knit hats droop against heads and it’s worth an extra look to the left and to the right at every cross walk because the cars never seem to slow. I’m not the kind of person who minds bringing up the weather, as trivial as it may seem to everyone else. In fact, pulling together a mental tally, I’ve probably made a variation on the same comment to five separate people today: “I don’t mind the rain, but when it’s rainy and cold I’m just miserable.” I tried to say it with the lightest touch of wry humor, as if, oh dear, I’m wringing out my sweater, but it’s all very funny. It is all very funny, but I’m careful to make it seem so, because worse than the girl who talks about the weather is surely the girl who complains about it. As I clipped home in my boots-while heeled, they’re the closest to waterproof I’ve got-I passed the place where the railroad tracks cut across my street. And there, on the ground, was the candy-striped beam that flashes lights and blocks the tracks when trains come by. Its wires were still connected to the post, and it lay so peacefully that I wasn’t sure if it had fallen at all; perhaps some men had come to work on it before the rain started, and set it down when the rain came. Perhaps they were in the coffee shop on the corner, dunking scones and watching me ponder their half-finished project. I stepped carefully over the beam and continued home, briefly considering calling the police to make sure it really was all right. Its wires were still connected, after all. Now I’m in bed, and my blue Christmas lights are on. The storm windows are continually crashing against the house, and I keep mistaking the sound for the sound of someone climbing the steps, or slamming the front door. It’s funny, this house, because while we don’t often see each other, and while I’m not sure if we’re all even friends, there’s a comfort in knowing that every one is home at the same time. Grace will be studying in the breakfast nook, or playing Zelda while Jordan looks on. Jordan, when not watching Zelda, has Latin music turned all the way up, and is making squash soup or pumpkin pie (like he did on Tuesday). Joey likes to know what the rest of us are doing, and grins to be part of it all. But otherwise he strums his guitar in his room, and takes a running leap down the stairs, which crash and echo the same way my storm windows do. I’m often not here, but when I am, I’m studying on my bed, or considering the mound of laundry rotting in my closet, or crying over a Keats movie (like I did on Wednesday). We’re all here now; I hear voices from downstairs. It’s still savage outside. But we’re all home, you know?