Laid bare by the ravages of mild weather, warming sunlight, whispering winds and a portent of spring to come, things were starting to get borderline comfortable. Cue a heaping dollop of rain, drenching the earth beneath and soaking through to the core. 10 degrees less and this could’ve been snow. Accordingly I’ve dug back into my winter wardrobe with the addition of my umbrella, equal parts sword and shield. I don’t see any point in complaining, I’d find something to moan about regardless of the weather. Too cold and I freeze, too hot and I melt. Too wet and I forget what it was to be dry. I always want my grass greener, so perhaps it’s time for a change of perception, to focus on the gilded frame of a downpour’s portrait.
I’ve always loved the rain deep down in the recesses of my robot heart. Despite my abiding hatred of wet socks or sopping paper, there’s something liberating about being coated in a liquid sheen. A splash on an otherwise dry outfit is a bummer, but once you’re soaked right through, further water can’t hurt you. As a child, splashing through puddles in big rubbery gumboots was the closest I’d get to any of Jesus’ supposed super powers (though materialising bread or fish at will would be a confounding obstacle for any opposing super villains) and it came with the extra feature of feeling like I had some dominion over the elements (I was always a massive Captain Planet fan). I’d get leaves and fold them back on themselves, creating little boats for impromptu “river rapid racing” in gutters with friends (I desperately wanted to use the word “chums” there). Rain brought out worms of all shapes and sizes. I’d marvel at how huge some were and wonder why the large ones never came to the surface unless water forced them out. I imagined them fleeing their homes, choosing to run in the face of almost biblical flooding. Rain meant mud, mud meant fun. I’d come home dripping, soaking and sopping, caked from head to toe. A hot shower before dinner was like a hug from up on high.
As I entered my teen years the allure of rain began to drain. I now approached the endless drizzle with a “what can you do?” kind of attitude, resigned to the deluge, no point in cursing anything. Our school sweatshirts may as well have been knitted with poison ivy and after a heavy shower they smelled like a wet animal. The one saving grace of a massive downpour was the combination of my raging hormones and the female students’ predilection for wearing the thin white sweater variant of the normal uniform. Being an unrepentant geek, wet weather justified my propensity to stay inside playing video games, neutering my parents’ pleas for us to go outside (their dubious reasoning usually amounting to “just because”). I found that I had an unusual natural ability to control the weather. All I’d have to do was bring an umbrella and “coincidentally” it’d be a clear, sunny day. Of course the inverse would be true. Like Murphy and his law were looking to file an arrest on my arse.
These days rain just seems cumbersome. Rain requires me to plan ahead, to engage in extra effort. If someone tried to splash me now I’d probably respond with an emphatic “fuck you” rather than my former laugh and reciprocal splash. Rain puts a damper on plans, forces me to circumvent my intended course of action. At some stage the magic wore off. I stopped laughing and started worrying. Why? What’s a little water really gonna do to my day? Is that what growing up is? Life becomes driven by practicality over dreams. The things that used to enchant and enhance your life fail to stack up against encroaching responsibility. A large part of me still wants to be that child, to taste the sky on my tongue and remember what it was to wonder. Sometimes though, late at night when I’m in bed, I feel it. The rain beats down outside and I feel warm and safe, like a mother’s embrace. In my heart I still remember. If only my head could catch up.