I’m a child of the rain.

I grew up walking to school in the rain, biking with my friends in the rain, camping in the rain, making out in the rain.

When it rains in Los Angeles, a number of things happen: People forget how to drive. The roads get very slippery. People forget how to drive.

When I tell people where I’m from, they often comment on the rain, knowingly. Oh, so you’re really used to the rain. Wasn’t it depressing?

No.

It made everything smell good. It’s the reason why there are hundreds of shades of green. It’s why sweaters were invented and tea did booming business. At the tip of the Puget Sound, in the capitol of Washington state, the rain never stopped anyone from doing anything.

When I first took C to my hometown, he marveled. You grew up here? You grew up surrounded by this kind of drama? We were at Tumwater Falls park, and I craned my neck to follow his gaze to the glistening cliffs, the needle pines, the tumbling water. Fish ladders wind through the park. Four million chinook salmon battle their way into the Deschutes River every year. As a kid, I would stand on the metal grates over the ladders and dream of falling into the spray.

It was a gift day, that day. Sunny, fluffy clouds, light air. We sat on a grassy hill overlooking the river and C fell asleep with his head on  my lap. We had one day in Olympia before continuing north to a high school friend’s wedding, where I expected to see people I hadn’t seen in over a decade. Also, I hadn’t been home for years, and I was both intensely curious and profoundly afraid of returning.  My family had left years ago, and memories bore down with a slight, but insistent pressure.

I drove us briskly through the center of town, and C said, surprised, It’s small. Very. A lot of people assume Seattle is the capitol. Emerald City. Olympia is more like the slightly mousy cousin who reads a lot and makes really cool metalwork in her backyard.

I had an irrational fear of seeing someone I knew, so I kept my sunglasses on and felt cowardly. We stopped at the Farmer’s Market, which runs all week, and inhaled raisin bread, smoked salmon, spiced nuts. People walked around in hiking shoes, Birkenstocks, old sneakers. No Uggs to be found. Most women wore no makeup, and looked wonderful.

Later we sat in a corner coffee shop, the one I’d spent many, many nights in during high school…with my best friend, drinking mochas and eating lemon bars. It has a different name now, but the windows still face the same view.

Going home has an ache and a pain and a delight.

Advertisements