How Gentle Is the Rain

Speeding down the highway, listening to music without a care in the world seems like it was just yesterday

"How gentle is the rain …"

I was instantly transported the moment I heard those lyrics on my car radio the other day. I can't remember who sang it, but I can remember exactly what I was doing 50 years ago when it played on the radio of my 1960 Falcon.

I'm speeding down San Vincente Boulevard with four of my best friends—one in the front seat, three squished in the back—after spending a sun-baked day flirting with cute teenage guys at Sorrento Beach. Transistor radios blaring into the warm air. Baby oil sizzling on our skin. Flipping over every 15 minutes to keep our bodies directly in the sun, in those halcyon days when the sun wasn't bad for you.

I'm speeding down San Vincente Boulevard and I'm not wearing shoes. We're all singing at the top of our lungs when in my rear view mirror, I see a cop. He pulls me over and I'm sure I'm going to be double-ticketed: one for speeding, one for not wearing shoes while driving.

It feels like it happened yesterday. Just a few seconds after the song has been playing, my cell phone rings. It's one of my girlfriends from the San Vincente ride. She's practically crying from happiness, talking so fast I can hardly make out her words.

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"Quick. Turn on the radio. K-Earth," she says. "Guess what's playing?"

Back then, we giggled nervously as the cop pulled us to the side of the road. I quickly pull over now because I can't see through the tears streaming down my face.

Am I crying because so much time has passed since those carefree beach days? Because I know I can't go back again? Or is it because after all these years, I'm still in touch with those girls and what could possibly be better than that?

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Of course, we've changed throughout the years. As teenagers, we talked about boys and college. And then boys again. Dreaming of life once we entered the "real world."

In our twenties, some of us started careers. Some of us started families. We talked about diapers, sleepless nights and bosses that didn't appreciate us.

In our thirties, we yapped about our kids and spent endless hours on hard benches at sporting events. We talked about staying in shape, and panicked at the sight of a gray hair and, God forbid, a wrinkle!

As we turned forty, our conversation turned to savings accounts for putting our kids through college and for future facelifts. We cheered at the newly discovered "botox" treatment. How fabulous to be able to get rid of wrinkles without going under the knife?

In our fifties, we dipped into our savings accounts for weddings and those now-needed facial treatments. We chatted about hot flashes and night sweats, about our aging parents and our grandchildren.

And now in are sixties, we talk about Social Security, Medicare and retirement. It seems almost impossible that so many years have passed. Because when I look at my girlfriends, I still see them as teenagers. And I think they see me speeding down the highway without shoes.

What will we be talking about in the future? Well, depending if we can still remember, we'll probably be reminiscing about the past. About those wonderful days on the beach, listening to music and looking for boys. And what could possibly be better?