Rain is, perhaps, the simplest and most common argument I can make for subjective tastes in people.
At first, I thought it might be color, but deep down I am always plagued by the idea that no two people see colors the same way–that grand question of perspective every seventh grader eventually stumbles into– but then I realized that there was a more persistent image, shared in media, culture, even education, while simultaneously countered in those very same things.
Calling rain important to the planet, to us as people, is a drastic understatement. Though, I remember a time, as a child when every little song we learned and half the impetus for my picture books was that the rain had come and ruined what was supposed to be a sunny, shiny day. The plot would be about finding ways to be content with the rain– to do something indoors. Or it would be framed slightly more sinister, as a way to hide from storms, in all their lights, sounds, and sensation.
But I always loved the rain. Growing up, I thought that made me weird. As a teen, I felt it was a sign I was moody, to prefer the grey skies and the contrast of a vibrant downpour that shook my vision of everything in between. And sometimes I still feel that way, though I’ve been keen on expressing my love more and found that many people prefer rain the way I do.
In fact, the last time I met someone and they said “no, not really” when I asked if they enjoyed the rain in spring, or summer storms, it almost felt like I couldn’t trust the person. I was surprised in a way. How do they clear their miasmas? Do they let their problems bake away in the sun, instead of washing away?
As benign as their distaste was, it felt like something I could not get over–could not overcome about them.
Rain has often been a positive symbol in my poetry, as it has in my life. Every time it rains and I hoped it would, I feel a sense of calm, tempered only by my worry that my desires have inconvenienced the working world around me. But that doesn’t stop me from hoping.
Sunlight can be depicted as harsh and blinding. Sunlight can mean death and withering in unforgiving heat, just as rain can be set up as bleak and dreary. It’s subjective, like most experiences. And yet it was, perhaps, the first time I identified preference as feeling deeply wrong in the media I was handed.
Maybe I loved rain because I lived on a hill and the water never pooled much, it dynamically flowed, even with the lightest consistent drizzle. I cannot day for sure. One thing I noted as I grew up and attached more memories and feelings of and about individuals to seasons and weather is that nobody could claim the rain. Spring represented one lost love, winter another, fall a few select friends, and summer still holds a sense of carefree lingering with certain people, even as summer has faded from being a significant break, a vacation, into being just another set of work weeks. But rain, rain has remained independent. I’ve weathered hurricanes beside lovers, I’ve stood under awnings, reveling in the quiet open air intimacy provided, I’ve spent hours in rain in the company of others– yet nobody has taken it from me. Rain never reminds me of any one person in the way other seasons and weathers have dragged me to certain memories. Perhaps that is a comfort all its own.
So much of this has been an exploration of my feelings, and so little an exploration of subjective tastes or imagery. But I think it proves my point as well as any dissection of picture books and cartoons and songs might. Right now, there are people who might be reading this who “don’t get it–“ people who don’t understand why I love the rain, the same way I can’t follow their distaste, and that proves my point better than any analysis could hope to.
In rain, I’ve found joy. Sometimes my inhibitions melt away for a moment, and I feel free to walk the steaming asphalt, barefoot, or to forego any shielding from the torrents, onlookers be damned, satisfied that wherever I turn up, people will try to commiserate with my damp self, only for me to lack empathy in what they deem a tragedy of sorts–