It’s Like Rain

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I like the rain. Always have. I like the way I am completely aware of the here and now when I’m outside, blinking away the dripping wet from my face. One time, just east of Fisterra, Spain, Michael and I walked all morning and afternoon in a steady downpour. We were drenched and walked along muddy trails for miles and miles. Some paths ran through trees and it wasn’t all that bad, and sometimes we found refuge, like under the overhang of a medieval church, another time a pub where we played foosball and had a drink. We had no plans, weren’t going anywhere except farther east on our way back from the end of the earth. And anyway, we knew already that eventually that evening when we changed, our clothes would dry. What’s the big deal.

I like working in the garden in the rain, or swimming in the ocean or in a pool. I especially enjoy swimming when there is obviously no chance of lightning. The steady rain on the water is soothing and eternal, something from Eden, something from sometime before that.

When I was a kid and went for bike rides on Saturday afternoons when it rained, a streak of puddle-wet would whip up my back. And while it was slightly irritating when a pebble took flight with the water, it was also visceral, absolute; the rain drowned out any sense of shadows from earlier or later, allowed only the present to persist. Sometimes my face was so wet my skin softened.

It’s raining now, and I’m doing work in a sandwich shop drinking tea listening to acoustic guitar music. That one sentence is loaded with personal imagery: the rain and my youth and walking once to a clearing in the hills behind the college in the torrents with a friend of mine, the music and how it keeps resurfacing, sometimes pushing me along sometimes pulling me back, and the tea and all the times a cup of tea was all I needed.

It is raining now, and I am aware of how much I can feel it on my skin when I think about how my father no longer can; my father and so many friends we’ve lost by now, some not far from here. Or how my friends so far away might be inside working, looking outside glad they are not out in the rain. I picture the times when I have had to find my way through a small village and it is raining, and I don’t mind at all. It is reassuring when I remember those times. It makes me realize no matter what I will always be fine, always be okay. If I can be completely at peace while walking in the rain, why would I ever let anything else bother me?

Another time in Spain Michael and I walked up a long road in the rain and an elderly man was standing in his doorway and asked us to come inside. He made us coffee and gave us some bread and we sat inside awhile, grateful for the break, more grateful for talking to someone new. The rain often brings people together, sometimes in doorways, sometimes in sandwich shops, and sometimes on grassy paths in some other place.

Once, I remember I was about eight and the rain had just passed and my mother let me go outside our home in Massapequa Park on the Island. The sun was out but everything was wet and puddles had formed everywhere, and steam rose from the pavement, and I can still picture it as if I was standing right there on the avenue, and the grass was soggy under my small feet. At home the pool water was cooler from the rain, but eight-year-old’s don’t care about that.

It seems more and more we are less aware of the here and now, but weather keeps me in the moment. Nature is in control; the wilderness will win eventually. I love standing back to watch it all. I love the way I can still feel the rain on my face, or the sun pressing on my neck on a July afternoon. Or the snow and a cool wind coming down from the north in November, and being outside takes some presence of mind.

                  Let the rain kiss you
                  Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
                  Let the rain sing you a lullaby
                  The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
                  The rain makes running pools in the gutter
                  The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
                  And I love the rain.
                                                                                      April Rain Song
                                                                                                –Langston Hughes

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