Thursday, February 22, 2007

Rain on Me

I live in the wrong state; well, maybe the wrong climate, as I always rejoice when I hear the weatherman call for rain. Lots of rain. It is so long between storms in Southern California that I wish I lived in the Northwest where there’s more rain than sun, at least some kind of change in the seasons. I look forward to a new storm and I get pleasure from sitting in my office or on the couch in the front room looking out the window at the world around me getting wet.

I love it when it rains. There's emotion in rain, a sense of passion; it’s more heart felt to see two beguiled lovers embrace in the rain than it is to see them kiss in the sparkling sunshine. That’s not romantic...not that I'm romantic, mind you. Quite not. Melancholy, sadness, depressing wretchedness, all the things that writers love to see, come out in the rain, and that's what I like. “Call me Ishmael… it’s a beautiful sunny day on the high seas, let’s go find that whale.” That just doesn’t work to set any kind of dire mood. You meet your fears in the rain, your fatal flaws, your desperate desires, the ones that drive you to the edge of madness.

That’s why I love it when it rains.

Maybe I just love it when there’s any kind of weather that doesn’t involve oppressive heat and eternal sunshine, the dusty buildup of a dirty city. We live in one long hot summer and rarely ever get to experience a change in the scenery that rain offers. Leaves don’t turn colors here. I don’t know what it’s like to drive in the snow. I do know, however, the subtle dance with the east- and west-facing windows of the house to keep it cool during a heat wave without having to shovel money into a hungry air conditioner. That I learned the first month after I started having to pay the bills in my own house.

The worse it rains, the more delighted I become. Maybe it’s my secret enticement with chaos and the lure of calamity. I read recently about a rainstorm that flooded the streets of my hometown in 1969. It poured down 32 inches of rain in 45 days. How exciting that must have been… unless you were in one of the houses that were completely destroyed by tumultuous walls of mud that cascaded down from the mountains. The story made it into the October 1969 National Geographic if you ever come across a copy. I’ve got three.

Today it rained, but I didn’t entirely get to enjoy it because it didn’t start pouring down until after dark. The sun was spotty and unreliable but it broke through most of the clouds today. One good thing about rain at night is the aluminum patio we have in the backyard, and when it rains, it sounds like we live in a tin shack. But the sound goes a little deeper than that for me. My grandparents lived in a mobile home and the entire thing was built like a Coke can and every time it rained, the whole house reverberated from the continued drumming. It doesn’t make for a relaxing sound, naturally, but every time I heard the rain on our patio, I think of my grandparents and how much I miss them.

One bright spot to my otherwise unproductive day (I have seven articles due this week and next and I can’t seem to concentrate on doing much of anything—mental road blocks are keeping my creativity at bay): Natalie seems to be my friend again. She earned some time in her room this morning (for yelling at me for sitting in her spot on the couch—thank you Archie), but afterwards I had a talk with her while she was playing a computer game and she was actually sorry that her temper is so short with me. She promised to be more patient and understanding in the future, and it was nice to hear.

It was a productive talk, and I did most of the listening, which is rare. She usually clams up when she has to discuss how she feels about anything, but today she was quite candid in telling me that she will use an indoor voice when something upsets her and instead of yelling, she’ll calming tell me what is wrong.

Later we went outside in the rain to check the mail. I knew there wouldn’t be any because I had already retrieved it earlier this afternoon, but after Natalie and Kara went to the movies today, they bought an umbrella for her. For some reason, Gnat’s been drawn to umbrellas. I don’t know what the allure is but she finally got to have one of her very own, with Dora on it of course; and she spent some time on pins and needles, staring out the window to see the first hint of rain drops in order to unveil the new umbrella and take it for a spin in the sprinkles.

She announced that it was indeed finally raining and that she had felt some drops in the hallway, even, which was odd, but I still got up to check for leaks in the ceiling… which seemed more odd to do now that I think of it.

Anyway we checked the mail and there wasn’t any, but she was content with the journey. I taught her how to open the umbrella and close it and how to shake off the rain before you bring it in the house. I explained the superstition that it is bad luck to open it in the house, and she was happy to put her "baby" umbrella next to the "daddy" umbrella in the closet. It was one of those Norman Rockwell moments that would make untold masses of people throng to buy the "Saturday Evening Post."

It’s supposed to rain next Wednesday.

I’m already looking forward to it.

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