The rain here has finally started. It smells nice, the sound is soothing, and the constant dampness feels like home. It started a few days ago, after the longest Indian summer I can remember. All us who consider ourselves locals seem to share a mix of refreshment and resignation that the long streak of mostly sunny weather we have had since the end of July has finally come to a close. We are suspicious of such a long bout of truly lovely weather but it's a shame to see it go. Some, like R, are disheartened that we have entered into another inevitable rainy season. Others don't feel like they are truly in the Pacific Northwest without a bit of moss growing on the north sides of their torsos. My feelings are mixed. I grew up in this city-town on the opposite side from where I am living now and a lot of peaceful, contemplative memories from my childhood and adolescence are set against a backdrop of constant drizzle and rain falling in broken sheets across the tops of the trees. I live downtown now, in a residential enough area but most of the trees are still very young and don't offer the canopy that turns rain from a soggy-making bother to diffused-spatter symphony. Like the Inuit and their many words for snow, we have as many to describe rain here and I miss the steady downpour that turns leaves into percussive instruments.
I suppose downtown rain has its charm. It certainly cuts the ominous, muggy feeling that settles in when the seasons know they are in the Northwest and are growing impatient for the changing of the guard. There's no way they will ever get confused and think they are in San Diego just for a year. And so the heavily-treed neighborhoods feel magical in a downpour and downtown feels a bit hassled, but when enough of a deluge hits people are nervous about driving at night and the cacophony uninterrupted by car horns or motorcycles is soul-scrubbing.
Rain tonight is a reminder that it has almost been a year since my first surgery. I walked into last year's rainy season expecting to miss two weeks of work after Thanksgiving but then have my biggest medical issue under control. This time last year, I was recovering from being lightly electrocuted by the "oven" we used to make biscuits where I worked. I thought it was unamusingly ironic that I would be the one to get shocked after making no effort to conceal my discomfort with using a pottery kiln on a table under a tarp out back to make biscuits. Being so far now from that delightful chaos machine of a cafe, I have a hard time believing I willingly stuck my hand in that thing when the rain was dumping like it is tonight. That was my biggest worry: how would I tell my boss that under no certain terms would I use any appliances outdoors in inclement weather, regardless of my job duties? I knew I would recover in time for my giant laser surgery, recuperate at home for a few weeks, and then get back to being a barista/cafe monkey. I was looking forward to gloomy mid-week mornings with E when we would have two hours with no customers and thus plenty of time to do the crossword together and discuss his latest acting gigs. Then the surgery, then the blood loss, then the MDS diagnosis and blah, blah, blah.
The start of our nine months of flat, grey light and perpetual damp precedes Halloween. I loved Halloween all my life but not as much as now; it is my symbolic anniversary with R. Halloween was the night we finally gave up back-burnering our mutual crush and the following week or so (R got swine flu at the beginning of November!) led up to our first actual date. He grumbles and bemoans the rain; I remember him driving me home on Halloween and warming his rain-chilled hand in mine the whole way. It did not rain on our first proper date and we spent hours wandering a historic neighborhood after dinner, talking and laughing and trying to play it cool.
It's finally stopped but the wind has picked up again. The mask of patter is gone and all that remains behind the rasp of young trees quaking is the muffled P.A. at the postal sorting center and the squeal-hiss of air brakes on busses. The rain will return in an hour or two to help me sleep.