Shared Joy is Twice the Joy, Shared Pain is Half the Pain

The Umbrella

Hillary got married today, which means I’ve been thinking about her all day long. And when I think of Hillary, I can’t help but think of the umbrella. I think of a lot of other things too, but my favorite story that involves her is definitely the story of the umbrella. It goes something like this:

First semester of my sophomore year (almost two years ago, now!!), I was pursuing a job in New York City. I was – and am – a poor college student, so I wasn’t exactly excited about the idea of spending lots of money on an expensive hotel room in an expensive city, so I sent Hills, as she is affectionately known to me, an email. A couple days later, I had a “free” hotel room – I promised to buy her and Matt, her then-boyfriend, now-husband dinner. (Which, of course, she ended up buying for me, in true kind-person fashion. But that is beside the point.)

I checked the weather before I left Boston. I did, I swear! The weather predicted a scant 10% chance of rain over the entirety of the weekend. By Sunday night, however, the rain clouds were pretty ominous. Hills and Matt are both teachers, which means they needed to be up and out at some ungodly hour (I believe it was 6am). I am a college student, which means I did not. They were super kind and left me behind with a key and instructions on how to get it back to them. In my half-awake state at 5:whatever, I noticed they were leaving not 1, not 2, but a selection of umbrellas out. I protested, but Hills told me to take one with me – don’t get soaked for no reason at all!

That day in New York was the first time the little blue umbrella kept me happy and dry.

Once I got back to Boston, I offered to send Hillary her umbrella back. But she laughed and told me to take it around the world with me. I remember that she told me to keep it, to love it, and to think of her whenever I use it.

And that is exactly what I do.

I try to take pictures with the umbrella wherever I use it. Sometimes, like when I was in Copenhagen, people think I’m strange. I mean, how often does someone come up to you in the pouring rain and say “Hi! Can you take a picture of me in the rain with my umbrella?” On the other hand, I’ve gotten to explain to an awesome number of people why I take pictures in the rain.


Every so often, if I have the time and the inclination, I print out a photo and write a letter to Hillary and send it to her. More often, I send a note via email. Mostly, I just think about her and then go stalking on facebook…


Hillary’s umbrella has travelled the world. It spent nine months in Prague (as you can see above), with side trips to another 10 European countries, where it (fortunately for me, less fortunately for this project) lived in my backpack. It did make an appearance in Italy, though!


And, of course, it has been well loved all over the USA, including Boston, SF, and Big Sur.

Maybe someday I’ll send Hillary her umbrella back. Maybe I’ll keep it. I’m just wishing her lots of luck and a happy day from me, and from our little blue umbrella.


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