Last week LA experienced a rare and beautiful string of rainy days. The first couple of days it was only misty. There was cool moisture in the air, and the cloud cover all-encompassing. No one really woke up until late afternoon. The sun disappeared before lunchtime and never came back until the moon rose. And it was a full moon at that.
There it went. My inner alarm bells they sounded. Cue the wolf howling and need to transform in the night. Meh, it’s only Wednesday, I thought. I‘ll settle for a walk to the grocery to determine whether or not I really do want to buy myself a nice beer. That was the major crisis of the night. I was content to wander aimlessly through the aisles of Gelson’s, examining overpriced fruit, bags of chips I didn’t actually want, and a box of Crayola crayons for old times’ sake. Because, honestly, nothing beats opening a fresh box of crayons.
What I look forward to most when it rains is the day after. The streets have been washed of their dust and filth, and everything has a freshly baptized sheen. Only the sweet smells travel when it is so cool and damp, so when I pass a honeysuckle tree or lavender bush, it lingers with me as I continue walking downhill.
It’s an interesting form of communion, to walk a deserted street late at night. The city is darkly still and silent, feeling almost like someone hit the pause button on that movie of your life, and you have the chance to dance around by yourself for a few minutes. I used to walk on average 2 miles a day while I was in school in Boston. I’d bounce back and forth from campus to Allston, to Brookline, occasionally biking over to Cambridge. I remember one night I was wandering through Brookline up Beacon Street at 3AM, and eventually I decided to walk along the tracks of the B line metro. Up the hills and turns of the road, I imagined I was walking on a spine. The middle of the night is the time when the streets get to relax before the next day, transporting thousands of people from their A to B. I can’t help but personify inanimate objects. It seems more fun that every chair, tree or sidewalk would have a personality. Toy Story is one my all-time favorite children’s movies, and we’re all made of the same star stuff, after all.
It’s the funny thing about rain and colder temperatures. For the most part in North America, the end of the calendar year coincides with weather that forces you to spend more time inside. And the change stirs the pot whether you want it to or not. We’re forced to communally reevaluate our lives from top to bottom, from dietary habits to romantic relationships, as if the arbitrary date of January 1 really makes a difference as to the way we make decisions about our personal lives. I always feel very raw at this time of year. Suddenly everyone’s icy urban exterior melts a few sizes, and we can all interact with each other on a more basic level. People’s hearts and minds are opening, sharing their joy for the Holidays, joy for the family or the coming new year, or conversely their dread for each.
It’s December 9th, but soon the days will snowball into January 1st, and you can bet your sweet bippy I’ll be taking a walk through my neighborhood that afternoon.