When It Rains

It is 3:30 in the morning, and I am squinting at my phone. I have no idea why I woke so suddenly, especially when the dream I had been having was exceptionally nice - something involving maple syrup hot toddies and a fireplace. Then I hear the rain. I get out of bed and push the blinds aside to stare out the window. Water is coming out of the sky in sheets, in droves, in gallons, lashing at the glass against which my nose is pressed. The windows shake and rattle as gusts of wind carry the rain in all directions, and I feel small puffs of cold air hitting my skin through invisible spaces not at all sealed off from the elements; I think, not for the first time, about how ill-equipped our apartment would be if Los Angeles were ever to experience some kind of freak winter weather event. This is easily the hardest it has rained since we moved here over three years ago. 

It is early afternoon, and I'm dancing with a baby. We spent the morning listening to the rain fall, watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and snuggling as the sky slowly lightened and more and more cars filled the roads. It's been an inside kind of day; I drank tea while she ran around with a tiny broom and her Minnie Mouse toy clenched in her hands, babbling words only known to her. We colored for awhile, and played with blocks, and then we had lunch, and then she started pulling yoga moves (downward dog is her specialty) and rubbing her eyes, her telltale sleepy signals. So I pick her up, dim the lights and sashay around the room, swaying slowly to Norah Jones and Joe Purdy, softly humming the melodies as her tiny head gets heavier and heavier on my shoulder, and eventually she goes limp in my arms and drops her blanket, so I put her in her crib, turn off the lights completely, and do a little yoga of my own while the raindrops continue outside. 

It is the middle of the afternoon and I am doing the dishes while the baby sleeps. The rain pours onto the lush jungle of plants outside the window at my friend's apartment, and for a minute I feel like I am back in Costa Rica, where it rained almost every day and where I was very, very happy. I'm listening to the radio, and there is a reporter talking about mudslides and avalanches along the coast and in some burn areas, where wildfires stripped the landscape bare only a few months earlier, making the earth more susceptible to movement en masse. The health department is recommending that everyone stay out of the ocean, as months-worth of debris and trash and bacteria makes its way through the sewers and river and out into the open sea, turning the waves into a health hazard. I marvel, not for the first time, about how different California is from Minnesota - and then I hear reports about a small tornado ripping through South Los Angeles, and I reconsider. Anything is possible. 

It is late afternoon and I am driving home, watching as the sun, now low in the sky, begins to break through the clouds. A partial rainbow stretches across the sky directly in front of me, vanishing into the hills just to the left of the Hollywood sign. Typical, I think to myself, that the millionaires are the ones with direct access to the pot of gold. Everything is wet and shiny, and there are massive puddles everywhere along the side of the road, making the traffic even slower than usual. I crack the windows and inhale fresh air as I pass through brief sun showers and gaze at the hills rising up, which look greener than usual and remind me of Hawaii. I glance at the rainbow and decide to pretend I am in Hawaii, or Costa Rica, or wherever, and that it rains all the time and that I'm not sad that this storm is almost done and will continue making its way across the rest of the country, which doesn't need the precipitation nearly as much as we do. 

It is nighttime and I am sitting on my futon, listening to country music and drinking a Fireball whiskey hot toddy and editing the photos you are seeing in this post, which I took several weeks ago the last time it rained, but didn't get around to looking at until now. One of the best parts about rain in this part of the country is the way the clouds hug the mountains and contrast against the bright blue sky. On the day I took these photos, I spontaneously decided to take a solo trip up into the Angeles National Forest and see what was happening with the weather at Mount Wilson Observatory. I was not disappointed. I parked my car and stood in the silence, watching as the clouds drifted and shape-shifted along the edge of the mountains, ebbing and flowing, building up and then disappearing. I struck off down a trail in my sandals, making it as far as I could before my toes became so numb that I was afraid they might fall off. I watched two parents and their son throw rocks down into the valley below, listening as they crashed along the hillside, the sounds echoing off of the giant stone cliffs, vaguely dulled by the density of the clouds that were obscuring the mountaintops from sight. 

These rainy days are when my brain buzzes the most, which is saying something, because my brain is a crazy, buzzy little fucker even on its slowest days. I prefer to spend rainy days alone, or with a maximum of one other human being, preferably one I'd like to snuggle with under a blanket while we get drunk off of bourbon and talk about the world. I strongly believe in the strength of the melancholy that clouds bring; too many consecutive days of sunshine create too much dwelling space for my mind and convince me that I need to be happy, that not being happy when the sky is blue is a sin. Our culture is happiness-obsessed, and rainy days seem to be the only time when little bit of sadness is acceptable. So I milk the rain for all it is worth. I sit, I wallow, I dwell, I ruminate, and occasionally I go stand outside and allow the rain to soak me to the bone. Or I drive up into it and let it attend to my soul. 

Happy Tuesday, friends.