An important personal history with rain

“Rain keeps falling on my head” Popular song from B. Thomas in 1970

“I’m only happy when it rains” Popular song from Garbage, mid 1990’s

Rain is a universal bummer. In the abstract sense rain is necessary and without rain there would be nothing living on the planet. I think the only person I heard defending rain on a personal level was a guy I used to work with at a bookstore that stated he liked to put on a poncho in thunderstorms and go for walks. Most people though are not fans of rain. The times in my life that I’ve been a skateboarder I’ve particularly hated rain. If it rains on my days off, I can’t skate. I take this personally as nature’s affront to the activities I want to do. Today is a particularly bleak rainy day, so I think it’s a good opportunity to talk of my personal experiences with precipitation. The goal with this blog is to write anything once a week and the topic of rain is the only solid topic coming to me right now. But everyone can relate to stories about rain, so this is a legitimate topic for a blog entry.

I lived in Albuquerque New Mexico until I was 8, and can’t recall many rain stories from my childhood there. But I remember the warnings not to play in the ditches because rain from the mountains can rush down them and sweep kids away. I think about 12 years ago some of my family and I visited there as adults. On the long drive from Albuquerque to white sands the expanse of land with a view of mountains is impressive. I remember seeing on the sky line this sort of gray section with streaks from the clouds to the mountains. We realized we were looking at rain or thunder storms miles away from the road that we were driving on. That was kind of cool to ponder.

I don’t think my impressions of heavy rains were stamped into my memory until we moved to the east coast to Maryland. I remember at a neighborhood friend’s house a big storm came on and the family had all these steps for the house, cover the pool, shutter the windows, and other things. There was definitely a urgency to the way that family prepared for a storm, where at my house, we would probably simply go inside. Also near the high school I went for one year, there was a curve in the road, where every time it rained or snowed cars would crash or flip over. So I kind of knew that weather was something not to mess with. When we were kids we would take a lot of road trips, and every time it rained hard I could tell my parents concentrated a lot more on driving.

In Ohio a new severe weather ailment was introduced, and that was tornadoes. There would be siren warnings at home, school, college, and grad school. Even from a far distance a tornado sky looks like an unnatural color, and it can be scary.

On a vacation one year to Dustin beach Florida I lived through a hurricane. I believe it was hurricane Erin, and one morning everyone was talking about the hurricane. Apparently I slept through it. When we exited our hotel a large chunk of the building we stayed at was torn off from the hurricane. We could see damage here and there, and that was the talk of that trip.

Rain can produce some funny moments too. When I was heavily into running, I think the year was 2001 or so, I went for a long run and it started to pour. I learned on this run that perhaps I used too much detergent when I washed my clothes. In the heavy rain I looked down on my legs and I had soap suds on my legs and arms. It rained so hard that the left over detergent came out of my clothes. Like a trooper I finished my run, but I had to have looked absolutely ridiculous.

In New York City when it rains it pours. One difference in living here is that I don’t drive, and I do walk a bit for my daily routine. For people that drive they can be inside their car and have little interaction with the rain. But I have been soaked so many times since I’ve lived here it is common place for me. In the summer and fall of 2009 I am sure that it rained on the majority of my days off for a three month period. Last year I fared better. When you only have two days off a week, ideally on those days it would not rain, but no one is that lucky. Also I notice when it rains here it settles in for hours if not the whole day. I’ve heard of places on the west coast or other parts of the world where it will rain for 15 minutes and then clears up for the rest of the day. It can rain hard here too. Last fall on my bus ride commute home it got very dark, and then there was gridlock, which normally there never is gridlock on my commute. As I passed Forest Park and the cemeteries we saw trees thrown about and major damage.  If my bus was ten minutes faster we would have been caught in that odd ball tornado in Queens.

I hope I’m not belly aching about rain too much. Sometimes the moments after rain can look beautiful, such as rainbows, or glistening landscapes.  Rain is the natural way to clean things off, and it can freshen up the air. It would be convenient though if it didn’t rain on my days off. But that’s just me being a whiner.

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