Why We Would Like to Love the Rain, But Cannot
We are not used to it. Weeds grow hurriedly along the driveway, anxious that they might miss their moment; their boldness does nothing to disguise that they were caught off guard. For gardeners, this rain is a trickster, pulling bright green shoots out of the ground long before the dangers of snow and cold snaps have passed. We will have pleasing photo ops later this month, the tulips that are planted in the thousands downtown poking up through a foot of snow. We will duly capture the scene; some of us will use Hipstamatic and Instagram, while others will make the bold choice to upload their photos to the world (its breath bated) without any post-production at all.
Everyone has headaches, attributing them variously to the damp chill that easily permeates our loose layers (our standard defense against the dry cold we’re used to): the diffused, directionless light in the sky, the not-unpleasant but still unnervingly constant percussion of rain against our buildings, the low pressure system (no one knows quite what this is, but we all suspect it of being unnatural, and exactly the kind of thing that could easily cause headaches).
We do not (except for small children) usually have rain slickers and galoshes in this part of the country. We do have umbrellas, which we store in our cars forever, appreciating the sense of adult preparedness they give us, along with occasional reminders of our mothers. But we lack protocols for coping with their wet unwieldiness inside buildings and houses (a hybrid bat/stick insect monster, as we try to shake the water from its taut wings and maneuver it into a stable resting position so it can dry itself) so we seldom unfurl them.
We have coffee, although we are not at the same level of coffee-having as, say, Portland. We are a solid music scene, but we never got the hang of cloudy, Seattle-born grunge, preferring to specialize in folk, acoustic rock, bluegrass; if it’s unsuitable for a backyard barbeque/jam session, then we want nothing to do with it. We are, of course, equipped with special iPod playlists for cloudy days, consisting of Alanis, Fiona, and other moody female artists we used to listen to when we were 15. We can take a certain pleasure in sinking into this melancholy for exactly one day, but become lost and emotionally disoriented if rain is predicted to last any longer.
We are a city of health freaks and lifestyle gurus; we crow triumphantly when it snows, even non-skiers taking part in the constant analysis of conditions in the high country, and we all share in the collective misery of spring rain turning quality powder to slush. We are proud that we rode our bikes to work in the rain (or snow or hail), and we will continue to wear our flip-flops and our unselfconsciously vintage t-shirts at any time after February, in all types of weather.
We have car accidents in the rain, as much from the distraction as from the fact that our roads are made for snow and ice, not equipped to manage the sheer volume of water involved in a rainstorm. We are frustrated that just as the streets are more or less clear of the hazardous gravel helpfully deposited by trucks during winter storms, we still cannot take our motorcycles and scooters out; we are irritated that we must still drive our SUV’s, which get embarrassingly poor gas mileage, even the hybrids. (We talk about our mileage often, almost as often as we talk about our fitness metrics and routines. We are people who believe in self-improvement through the power of measurement, the holy pursuit of optimization).
We are tan, not from tanning booths or even from sunbathing, but from the tireless pursuit of health out-of-doors; we tend to look both older (skin) and younger (physique) than our age. We are a mile closer to the sun, even without going into the mountains; we are faithful users of lotions, both sunscreens and moisturizers, but we are resigned to the knowledge that our skin and lips and hair will always be dry. We have never heard of mold growing in the walls of improperly waterproofed houses, or of wooden doors swelling shut in the humid heat.
We ourselves are solar-powered, almost as much as our homes and our carbon-neutral office buildings. We are talking knowledgably about the rain refilling the reservoirs and preventing the national parks from burning down; we have had wildfires lately, and the memory of drought is never entirely absent from our collective unconscious. We know that it is life-giving; we know that it cleanses the air and the ground; we are tired of it.
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If you’ve been looking for a chance to say something then this very well could be it.
I wish to God I’d had a list like this when I was 23.
Answer phones better than anyone else has answered phones before. Relay messages so brilliant, they bring people to tears. Turn the coffee run into the choreography of Swan Lake. Become best friends with every intern and every underling and every taxi driver you encounter.
I remember taking the pen and notebook from that woman outside the courtroom, flipping to a clean page in the book, and writing, JESSICA IS SAD in big, bold, uncoordinated letters. “My sister is going to be a good writer someday! Look at how nice her lines are!”