For some people, rain is the chance to hunker down indoors. For others, rain is something to enjoy outdoors. Crystal Chan grew up with a rain-loving mother who encouraged her kids not to come inside when the rain drops fell but to go outside. Chan still loves rain to this day.
When it starts to rain, it’s common to see people stop their outdoor activities or run to the car, to a park shelter, or to the garage. Growing up in Oshkosh, I had the fortune to have a mother who would say to my brother and me: “Kids, it’s raining. Want to go out?” In the beginning, she would accompany us, and we would take long walks on the wet, quiet sidewalks of our neighborhood, perhaps in the way that she did when she was a kid; together, we would listen to the sounds of the rain hitting the upturned leaves or breaking the surface of the puddles. As we grew older, Mom didn’t need to prod us; we would watch the summer clouds gather and darken, and the moment the sky would break open, my brother and I would run to put on our bathing suits, holler to Mom that we were going outside to play, and let the screen door slam behind us as we entered another world.
And it was another world, a world that most grownups avoided, and so therefore to us was magical and free. We would make tremendous jumps in the puddles, kick up fans of water headed for the gutters, and wipe the dripping rain from our eyes. Every once in a while a car would pass by on our quiet streets, and inevitably the driver would slow down to watch two children in bathing suits run, arms outstretched, through the cords of rain. Inevitably, we would wave to them, and they, in their dry cars, would wave back. Then the car would roll down the street, and, with the moment of civility having passed, my brother and I would return to our wild, wet world once again.
As an adult, the rain still calls to me: the summer downpours still evoke an urge to run outside. Now, however, I think about other things: is the temperature too cold, precisely how polluted is this rain, am I going to stain my light-colored clothes. Sometimes I succumb to these adult worries, and when I do I can feel the flame of my passion dimming, if only slightly. Other times, I succumb to my childhood longing, and when everyone else is running in, I am walking out; when I do this, I touch the memories of my youth: the sound of the screen door slamming as my brother and I come back inside, puddles gathering around our feet; the smell of Mom’s warm towels waiting for us at the front door.