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The Typhoon Umbrella

There are not many items I am sentimental about. I archive or toss photos of friends and I from long ago, I give away trinkets from my trips to friends, and I recycle birthday cards. I like living light. Simple. Clean. I can give everything away, because they are all items. And if those items are not being utilized, then why have them?

And maybe its usefulness is what has saved my dark blue umbrella from certain demise.

The umbrella collapses to be less than a foot long, and fits nicely in a purse, a backpack, or a car door. The silver button pops the umbrella and sends its spindles into a full stretch in under a second. It’s a regular umbrella you could find at any store.

Yet, it is no ordinary umbrella.

It is an umbrella of unbelievable perseverance. It has survived typhoons, monsoons, and a decade of adventures.

My umbrella protected me throughout the June 2004 typhoon in Osaka, Japan. My first flight, ever, and I was on a 16 hour direct flight from Chicago to Osaka. Our plane hit a rough patch over the ocean, and our plane was one of the last flights able to land at the airport that day — because tomorrow the typhoon would hit, shutting down the airport and pouring out on the city. My umbrella battled the winds and never once turned inside out. My umbrella kept me safe while all of the other drenched tourists huddled under local shrine.

My umbrella protected me from the monsoon-like spring deluges in Hong Kong. Only a small, white cloud floated over the bay — the sun was warm and the water seemed endless.  And without a dark cloud in the sky, seconds later a warm, wet deluge would flash flood the city. The water came down in such startling velocity and volume it was if God upturned a bucket instead of pouring water out from a garden pot spout. After five minutes of torrential rain it would cease and the sun would soak it all up again. Every storefront was obscured with steam and my glasses couldn’t remain clear unless I stayed indoors. In 10 minutes the ground would be spotless and dry, and the cycle continues.  My dark blue umbrella protected me from unseen deluges that would happen throughout my spring days in Kowloon.

And over the last decade this umbrella has given me shade from the blistering summer sun in Xi’An, China. It took my hand and escorted me through the misty streets of a Seattle in early spring. It sheltered me through the damp, sloppy winters of Kansas City and the occasional thunderstorm in Philadelphia. It protected me during the disastrous 2008 floods in Cedar Rapids.

The metal spindles are growing brownish red from rust, but my umbrella still pops open at my command, and spreads its wings at a moment’s notice. My umbrella has followed me for more than 40,000 miles and it never lost me. Not once.

I have a dark blue umbrella that I never intend to give to friends or family, or to recycle or donate. I have a rusty, reliable, old umbrella that has seen the world with me and holds all of my secrets.

I have a typhoon umbrella, sturdy and ready for the next adventure we choose to take.

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