Taking no prisoners. Including herself.

Finally! It only meant waiting until November 29th for us San Franciscans to be able to finally receive some winter-like weather (keeping in mind, however, that “winter-like” means some precipitation and temperatures dropping to a {brrr!} 50 degrees.) Ah, the joy of living in California.

I make an observation about the weather (I know, I know: an otherwise desperate attempt at small talk) because with the reigning in of the rain, the inevitable cries of foul weather spring forth. I’m sort of perplexed by this genuine crumudgeon-ness toward the rainy season. First, we have enjoyed 80 degree weather up to just a few days ago (and it is nearly December), and secondly,

I rather like the rain.

I find a particular kind of enjoyment during the holidays that have little to do with the piercingly ostentatious Christmas decorations that bless Union Square, the corporate holiday parties that birth drunken revelers onto financial district streets, or the tourists that appear in droves and flock like their seagull counterparts to Fisherman’s Wharf for clam chowder, and then snake their way through downtown for the mad shopping dash.

Rather, my favorite holiday experience is when the rains come, and the San Francisco fog turns to a heavy mist which, in turn, evolves into a downpour: I like to see the Christmas decorations ragged and wilted, the sprouting of black umbrellas along Montgomery Street like mushrooms, and the tourists skurrying for cover and cabs.

There is no animosity here. I don’t mean to say I take enjoyment when someone else’s parade gets rained upon; only that I find a sweetness in mother nature reminding us who’s boss.

* * *

I think people are actually afraid of rain. Plans with an acquaintance were cancelled when she said she was “afraid to get out of her car in weather like this.” But I don’t think it has to do with getting wet. I think it’s about admitting there are some things that get the better of us, despite how much money or power or intelligence we own–some things over which we have no control.

In this season-less city, it’s particularly difficult to orient oneself in time and space. Working in a window-less office, I often lose track of the time of day; the diversity of neighborhoods and city street-character in this town can make one feel like one is in China one moment, Manhattan another, and some European city the next; our clothing reflects more the annuals of fashion rather than season; and the early creeping of sunset as the solstice approaches can leave one disoriented with daylight and time.

So, there’s something defining about the rain; it cements a sense of placement, like a compass. Where the sun might cultivate pressure to be active with feverish energy, the rain makes me grounded, secure; as if, despite roots that often grow stunted and shallow in such an ever-changing, fragmented urban environment, I’m still a part of something natural; part of something vital, real, living.

It connects people to each other, too. If only in the sharing of the complaining about the rain (there’s nothing like a sharing of misery to bring people together — just take 9/11 in America as prime example.) And I tell you: there was an instant sense of comradery when I offered my umbrella services to a stranger for a few sloshy blocks.

There’s also something liberating about the very act of being in the rain — when expectations would dictate the rain to usher one inside, I feel refreshingly defiant and reckless to be “braving” the elements. I feel connected.

I feel powerful.

* * *

So when the rain caught me off-guard and unprepared yesterday [tsk, tsk: I should know better] I borrowed a coworkers umbrella for the walk home. The rain came down in gusts, and I chastised myself for wearing those wool slacks and kitten heels to work. But as I kept walking, I felt my hand slide off my shoulder, removing the umbrella’s cover and revealing my face to the sky.

There was no hiding the smile on my face– the one I knew others could see as they scurried past the crazy girl with the upside down umbrella, shivering and soaked, like a drenched rat.

§25 · November 29, 2005 · Narrative, San Francisco glory · · [Print]

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