Rain House (story beginning)

by | Jun 24, 2023 | Writing the Weather

Insurance won’t cover it. Insurance is a scam. Our family had been paying in for five years, the best policy, full comp, and when the roof began to fall apart after a windy hailstorm (the dreaded “gold ball” size) the insurance adjustors said the damage wouldn’t be covered since the shingles were “improperly installed.” Our family hired a private adjustor, got a lawyer involved, who said, “They can’t do that. That’s not legal.”

Apparently, what’s not legal for some is legal for others. Who knew?

Just over a week before the deadline to file a final claim, the private adjustor said to Pap that he was “starting” the paperwork. What had he been doing all this time? What were we paying him for, and why had Pap been paying the home insurance for five years, the best policy, the “gold standard” as the salesman said, promising my parents “no deductible, everything covered, everything full replacement value, no questions asked, as if the damage never happened.”

As if it never happened? There is no such thing after the rain. What good is homeowners’ insurance if it won’t cover a roof dismantled in a storm? And why did the neighbors get a new roof from their insurance when they had been paying less for their policy and it was the same storm? These were the kinds of questions that kept my parents up late at night in my childhood. At some point, once my parents gave up fighting the adjustors, they started fighting each other and just said, “Too hell with it, why are we paying for?”
They stopped paying, fighting, caring, giving a damn, you name it. Our new family motto: Why bother?

Once the roof wasn’t covered at all, no insurance whatsoever, we kids realized no one would be coming to help us and our parents couldn’t handle it, so we started having fun with roof parties for patching the shingles, on weekends buying single packs of shingles from Lowes to layer like feathers mismatched, molting in sun.

Like the rest of my family, I would never trust insurance, but I had a thing for roofers, so I decided to marry one as soon as I was legally able to explain to one why insurance salesman are criminals and what those companies get away with, selling a policy not worth the paper.

Now that I’m married to a roofer, I think differently about rain. Even more than money, the rain has changed us.

Rain sculpted my childhood, the roof no longer covered by any policy, because why bother? It was all a racket. And when it started raining, Pap got nervous because we couldn’t’ afford to replace the roof and our patches could only do so much. Would they hold? Yes, they would, sometimes! And how we cheered when it rained hard and the patches held. How long? When they failed, where would the breach appear?

As life began to change with the weather, rain bathed us, tinkling and trailing, glossy on the painted ceilings, moving in translucent trains circling to the center of the rooms so that the soft ceilings began to crack like eggshell, to fall like cakes, to peel like sunburnt skin above warping antiques and swollen paintings.

The first and only man I ever loved, just a boy in training, a roofer’s apprentice when I first brought him home, had to earn his place in my family by enduring the bucket trial. Chasing the rain, fighting it, befriending it, he became one of us.

Holes opened in the ceilings of our home, which my family and our friends began to lovingly call “The Rain House.” If you ever visit us during a storm, bring a bucket inside to catch the rain, place a bucket over a hole, and empty the bucket on the porch when it fills. Rush in and out, emptying buckets of rain. It becomes a game, a dance, a trial, a challenge from the sky.

Have you ever danced in a Rain House? I once asked the boy who would love me. Have you ever made love in a Rain House? Ever been to a party in a Rain House?
Every been married in a Rain House? Well, I have.

Don’t try to understand me or my family. You won’t be able unless you have been through what we have. How many women were born in a Rain House like me?

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