It's been raining pretty heavily in Portland the past couple of days. I read that on Saturday we had 45 mph wind. Anyway, you'd think we'd all know how to drive in the rain, even those of us who are new to town but have lived here almost two years.
Last night, I ventured out into the cloudless, misty night which was so dark it seemed like the humidity was really black ink, like blackness was not just a way to describe the sky but a thing that surrounded all objects on the ground. Some car lights cut a small tear in that darkness, through which I could see my neighbors doing something that seemed complicated and mysterious. It involved taking up about half of the street, and it was the half on which my car was parked.
You see, in Portland, the streets are narrow and people park on both sides. If two cars are coming down a street at the same time, one of the drivers has to be polite and pull over. This always happens. I rarely, if ever, have seen a hurried, angry game of chicken take place.
When I got into my car, I started backing up at an angle so that, when I pulled out, I could give the neighbors (whose actions were still mysterious, but appeared to be more complicated than simply, "moving a different car to the outside of the driveway" and also there was a carseat involved that may or may not have had a child in it) as wide a berth as possible. As I was backing up I looked through my rear windshield and could only see raindrop-spotted dark. I backed up, back back back SLAM!
Silly me! I backed into the curb!
Then I noticed the red car behind mine.
Oh my God did I hit that car? Was I that close? Did I even SEE that car? What? Was I looked out the window in the mirror? What!? In my confusion, my memory of past few seconds' events had become a huge void.
Embarrassed, I got out of the car to look at the cars. There was no dent on the red car. Its license plate wasn't even ruffled. There was no red paint on my car. I had merely hit the curb more loudly than usual.
The neighbors' interest was piqued. They stared as I walked back to my car.
"It was just the curb!" I supplied awkwardly. "Good!" I added.
I got back into my car. The neighbors recommenced whatever it was they were doing. When I arrived at my Valentine's Day destination, I checked the car again...no red paint. Phew!