About two years ago, I spent the evening with a guy I had known for several years. As friends, we spent many moments sharing our dreams, passions, and desires until one day he asked me the most difficult question I’ve ever been asked. It wasn’t until recently after our friendship had ended that the question came back to me and I finally had an answer.
It was around midnight when he and I were lying on a picnic table in our small town’s public park when he decided to ask the question. I remember having to make him repeat himself because I felt so comfortable that summer night that my eyelids paused and my eyes were fixated on the one single star above me. “What is your most favorite thing in the world?” he asked a second time. As I adjusted my eyes, I tried to answer but couldn’t. What was my favorite thing in the world? I could answer with “my family” or “my friends” but that’s what is expected. I sat up, looked at him, and all I could say was “I have no idea. Can I have time to think about it?” Two years later, I’ve had enough time to think and I finally have an answer that is neither my family nor my friends. My favorite thing in the world is rain.
I love the sound of rain. I love the smell of rain. I love how in the state of Texas rain can be both excessive and rare all at the same time. I love how rain can make it okay to stay inside all day while if the sun is out, you’re obligated to go outside and enjoy it. If it’s raining, why can’t I also go outside and enjoy it? Because it’ll make me sick? No Mom, rain doesn’t make you sick, germs do. (She hates it when I tell her that.)
I remember how I spent one weekend alone in my two-bedroom apartment while my roommates were out of town and the weather was looking to cause some outside problems. I remember hearing the faint sounds of thunder and the quick subtle flashes of lighting. I walked out onto my badly painted balcony and pulled out my phone, attempting to catch a rad photo of the lighting that could possibly get me a lot of “likes” on Instagram. After trying to emulate some photography worthy of National Geographic, I decided to put my phone away and watch the beginning credits to a beautiful storm.
Slowly, raindrops began to fall and surely they gradually sped up. What started as only a visual and audible scene quickly turned into something that I was then a part of. I wasn’t on the inside looking out anymore. I was an aspect of the storm and even if I wanted to run in where it was warm and dry, my feet were planted like a tree. The rain continued to fall until the point where I could no longer keep my eyes open. It was so cold that breathing became difficult but the feeling of letting the rain cover every inch of my clothed body was invigorating. I became so overwhelmed that I started to cry. The mixture of cold rain and warm tears was a weird sensation on my face and something I’ve never experienced before. It wasn’t like crying under a warm showerhead where you can only differentiate your tears by taste. Standing outside during a storm is the only place I’ve been able to use all five of my senses at the same time.
Growing up, I’ve always been fond of the rain. I’ve always been afraid of the rain. I don’t mean that when it rained I ran into the arms of my parents to keep me safe. I mean that I’ve always been afraid that I would never be able to see the rain again. It still continues to be one of my biggest fears today.
Today as it rains, I look through the blinds of my small college-town apartment and I watch the rain hit the parking lot. The same questions that came to mind as a child continue to run through my head as I’m sitting here at 23. When will be the next time I get to feel the comfort of a calm, chaotic, and natural occurrence? Will I still be 23? Will the next time I see the rain — real rain, and not just a drizzle but a downpour — be when I’m holding my future children? Will the next time I see the rain be when I’m elderly and sitting beside my soul mate? What if the next time I see the rain is while I’m above the clouds alongside the family members I’ve lost throughout the years? I’m positive I’ll be asking these questions for the rest of my life. Rain is my favorite thing in the world because it reminds me that I’m not invincible and it gives me something to look forward to while life gets hectic and I feel like giving up.