A drippy-looking watercolor of an orange tent beneath a freeway overpass in the rain.

The Bay Area got its first real rain of the season in October. On Sunday, October 24, a record 8 inches of rainfall drenched parts of the Bay Area, while thousands of unsheltered people worked to stay dry using tents, tarps, and self-built structures. During the rainy season, unhoused people seek refuge in all kinds of places, often struggling to keep dry. If you would like to donate tarps or other wet-weather equipment to the houseless community, organizations like The Village in Oakland and Love and Justice in the Streets are accepting donations to distribute. (Image by Clio Sady)

I had a bit of an adventure last night… I thought I’d try camping under the ledge of this patio. The ledge overhead was just barely big enough to cover me from the rain. But on the downside, if there were any cross winds blowing the rain at me, I could be in big trouble. On the upside, I couldn’t think of any better ideas. So what the hell.Things went pretty well at first. And I slept for a couple of hours as snug as a bug in a rug. But in the middle of the night I realized I was in big trouble.

The rain REALLY started to pound down (we would end up getting a half-an-inch in all). And my blanket started to take on water like a big soppy sponge. And one of my pants legs was wet, as well as one of my socks. I started to panic, thinking I may have to bail from the spot—which would have been a complete disaster, staggering out into the middle of the storm with really no other place to go. But the alternative could be even worse—lying there all night completely soaked inside a cold wet blanket. . . Time moves really slow at times like that.

As you lay there for all eternity (seemingly) as the rain pounds down harder and harder on your tarp (the only thing I had for a “tarp” was a couple of black garbage bags that I had to constantly rearrange over my head to fend off the water that was coming at me from every direction). Minutes passed like hours. Hours passed like years. Years passed like . . . oh, you get the idea. …. And you have a lot of time to think when you’re lying there in the darkness, trapped in the rain. Like, about how the hell your life ended up at this strange juncture in the first place.

Finally—after several lifetimes—the rain seemed to be letting up… Or was that just my IMAGINATION.. No, the sound of rain on my tarp WAS receding, from a pounding, to a little tinkle. And then finally, to a complete stop. Silence. Beautiful! I pulled my body out of my blanket and stood there. It was still dark and I had no idea what time it was, so I pulled out my cell phone: It was almost 7 am. It would be getting light soon. I quickly packed up my soggy blanket and even soggier cardboard and trudged ever onward.

I think I’ll try something different tonight.

Some good news on the horizon. Supposed to be dry tonight. So I can sleep at my campsite with my kitties and catch my breath. In the meantime, I got two other spots scoped out that might work the next night it rains. Course you never know until you know. As they say.

Ace Backwords is a homeless writer and artist who lives in Berkeley, California. You can find more writing on his blogs.