It was pouring in Evanston during the hot Chicago summer. There were claps of thunder and bright whips of lightning. It was nearing the end of our last Saturday at the Medill cherub program and there was a strong gust of humidity wafting through the dorm, accompanied by a sense of stickiness. There was the excitement and energy of wanting to make the most of the six days we had left.
Then, one of my friends suggested going outside in the rain.
In a matter of minutes, five of us had changed into ratty T-shirts and athletic shorts. We ran down the main stairs with only our keys in our hands, phones and shoes left inside. We stood outdoors for a second, watching the droplets crashing on the sidewalk that had once been covered in chalk promising us the best summer of our lives.
We pushed the door open and ran out with an unusual amount of energy for 10:30 p.m. The water pelted my face, sneaking into the strands of my French braid. Puddles formed quickly and we jumped in them till everyone was drenched. We ran around the dorm and Fisk Hall, everything illuminated in a different light from the occasional flashes of lightning. Then, one of my friends started singing. She would sing a couple words of the song and stomp her foot to the rhythm. Soon all my friends and I joined in to “End of Time” by Beyoncé. We all channeled our inner Beyoncé, but we just looked silly running around outside when everyone else was trying to run inside.
In the middle of this experience, I had the urge to take a picture or a video. In the past few weeks, I had gotten used to taking pictures to document cherub life, capturing something as simple as a nap. I had gotten used to meticulously gathering details for stories in my notepad and taking pictures so I could recreate a scene in my writing. But I realized as I stood outside in the rain that the only way I had to capture this moment was through my memory. And, of course, a story.
This experience could stay alive in my memory and through telling the story to my friends and family. After all, I had spent the past five weeks collecting stories — in the news, from people on the street and from the 79 wonderful cherubs around me.