Here comes the rain again: Insights from a pluviophile

We drove out to Sandusky on Father’s Day because my husband thought it might be fun to sit outside on the newly renovated Jackson Street Pier and eat some tacos and breathe in the spray of Lake Erie and watch the sunset.

 

It’s really nice out there.

 

You can cool your heels in one of a whole line of bench swings that give you a view of the sailboats drifting out toward Canada.

 

Turn your head to the right, and you can marvel at the way the Cedar Point rollercoasters twist their way toward the sky.

 

The breeze is so pure.

 

The sailboats softly bob on the waves.

 

This. Is. Heavenly.

 

Usually.

 

On any other day besides the one we picked to come here, the 80-minute drive from our home to the pier would have been worth it.

 

But almost as soon as we arrived, the skies opened up with a vengeance.

 

And the rain began to pour.

 

The four of us ran to the parking lot and hopped inside the family minivan, where we spent the next 12 minutes gawking at a curly-haired kid and his girlfriend who had beach towels on their heads and were earnestly casting their lines into the choppy sea, trying to reel in some species of inedible Lake Erie fish.

 

Those kids eventually packed it in and ran to their car.

 

We pulled out of the parking lot behind them.

 

And the storm continued to rage.

 

The rain was so strong that it sheeted our windshield just like it does when the engine is idling in neutral at the $8 (plus fill-up) BP carwash.

 

We couldn’t see a thing out on the horizon.

 

So we left.

 

***

 

My husband, daughters, and I had spent more than an hour on the road to arrive at our Father’s Day destination.

 

And within 30 seconds, we decided to go back home.

 

Thus, we added 57 northeast miles to the odometer, and we made our way back to Cleveland.

 

***

 

Once again ensconced within the comfort of our own home, Steve and I realized that we had no back-up Father’s Day celebration plan.

 

We argued about the kind of movie we should choose to kill the time.

 

We debated rom-com versus comedy versus action versus documentary, and ultimately settled on the ridiculous: “Ant-Man and the Wasp.”

 

We spent the next two hours half-paying attention, laughing ironically, and scrolling our phones.

 

As families do.

 

***

 

All the while, the rain was making its way toward us.

 

Finally, it caught up.

 

You might read everything that I’ve written up to now and believe that I hate the rain.

 

I don’t.

 

In fact, the opposite is true.

 

I’m obsessed with rain.

 

I’ve actually spent more than my fair share of time working Google and scanning library shelves about my (totally appropriate!) hang-up to learn more.

 

I even searched for some kind of psychiatric characterization to assign to myself from the DSM-V.

 

Ultimately, though, I found validation (and possibly street cred) from Urban Dictionary.

 

According to that unimpeachably expert site, people like me are called pluviophiles. We love the sound and the feeling and the smell of rain.

 

Simply put: Rain brings me joy.

 

Rain is simultaneously gloomy and restorative.

 

It forces you to realize that you are part of a larger universe.

 

Also: Drops that fall on your face are both an assault and a comfort.

 

***

 

We came home from Sandusky on Father’s Day and my daughter and I were lounging in my bedroom listening to the rain fall outside the window behind my headboard and feeling the soft breeze creep between the pillows.

 

We had the TV on and we watched Anderson Cooper chat with Trevor Noah about race inequality in the United States.

 

Anderson tossed a question to Trevor: “And then there was the kid in Cleveland with a toy gun … I’m blanking on his name …”

 

“Tamir Rice,” Trevor said.

 

***

 

For Father’s Day this year, my kids gave my husband a state-of-the-art coffee maker.

 

A month earlier, for Mother’s Day, they bought me a white noise sound machine that includes one setting for springtime showers, and another setting for thunderstorms.

 

***

 

When I was a kid, my family lived in the last house on a dead-end street.

 

Our house sat directly across from a sprawling park with open fields.

 

In the midst of summer showers, to allow me and my three younger siblings to channel the energy that kids today put toward TikTok, my mom would let us put on our bathing suits and run around at that park between the raindrops.

 

Once, I was allowed to bring out a shampoo bottle and try to wash my hair in a storm.

 

The suds stung my eyes something fierce, but I’ll see that memory clearly forever.

 

***

 

When I was in college, I studied psychology and I even graduated with a degree in the subject.

 

I spent a bit of time working in the field before I found my way to journalism and writing.

 

I have always found it intriguing to try to psychoanalyze people.

 

And my most critically assessed patient is myself.

 

Most normal people would just say: “I like the sound of rain” and be done with it.

 

But I wanted to try to figure out if there was more to it than that for me.

 

Apparently, according to NOACA for kids, the U.S government site that describes weather patterns for the under-10 set: “Within a cloud, water droplets condense onto one another, causing the droplets to grow. When these water droplets get too heavy to stay suspended in the cloud, they fall to Earth as rain.”

 

OK.

 

Now we’re getting somewhere.

 

***

 

Life is heavy, friends.

 

Really, really, really, really heavy.

 

Sometimes one moment builds onto the next moment.

 

Which builds onto the next moment, which builds onto the next.

 

Eventually, the weight of all of those moments is just too great.

 

And then the rain comes.

 

***

 

The rain has to come.

 

It has to.

 

And we have to see it.

 

And feel it.

 

And hear it.

 

And smell it.

 

***

 

Rain is necessary.

 

Plants can’t grow without it. Fish can’t swim without it. We can’t drink without it.

 

***

 

I love the rain.

 

Because it’s peaceful.

 

But I also love it because it shocks me back into life.

 

I love letting the rain sting my face.

 

Puddles sloshing around in my shoes make me uncomfortable and remind me that I’m not in control.

 

The smell of rain reminds me of what it felt like to be a little girl.

 

Young.

 

Free.

 

Awake.

 

Alive.

 

***

 

When I crank a little dial, a tiny computer fills the air with the sounds of a summer shower splashing down over the ocean.

 

I love it.

 

This mini-computer was a perfect Mother’s Day gift.

 

And yet …

 

Rainstorms are a visceral reminder that the world is organic and has weight.

 

Sometimes that weight is unbearable.

 

***

 

We exist in a world where, within six short years, national media anchors cannot remember the name of Tamir Rice.

 

Because his name is one of hundreds of names.

 

Of thousands of names.

 

***

 

The sky is heavy.

 

The raindrops are pouring down.

 

Open your windows.

 

Let yourself feel them.

Read more articles by Kathleen Osborne.

Kathleen Osborne is the mother of three children who now are legally considered adults, although she has trouble assigning that label to herself. She is the marketing and communication director at Hathaway Brown School, where she’s inspired by creative, smart, and confident girls every day.

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