Clouds from Both Sides
Nothing brings on nostalgia like the rain. I feel like I’m walking the streets of the wrong city when thoughts of Portland trickle back to me, water and memories pooling around me, running over my scalp, across my skin. I don’t carry an umbrella.
I’m thinking about the duality of a storm. It signals a kind of purification, even as it soils things anew. Rain washes the world over, but nothing is erased, only smeared and faded. This city reeks in the wake of a downpour. The air gets heavy with the stench of the grime, yesterday’s trash reminding us of what we’ve thrown away.
I don’t remember rain like this. The air is never thick on the west coast. In younger days, when the rain came, it was always fresh and clean. Green sprouted from tangled concrete cracks; we felt alive.
Regrets didn’t linger–the rain came and left slowly, more thorough and methodical in its wash. When we emerged from hiding, the damp world seemed shiny and new, and we were grateful.
I used to run through storms, purposely waiting for the heaviest rainfall before I pulled on my sneakers and went jogging. In desperation, cool rain was relief. But Now, Here, I walk flooded streets feeling out of place. Rain should evoke home, but something feels wrong. Catharsis never comes. I feel overwhelmingly older than I should, and the past is a leaden fog around and inside me, rolling in the pit of my stomach, pressing my shoulders into a slouch.
I want to run. I want to escape. How did I get here, anyway? I want to shuck every aspect of this life and run west, back to hills and safety and seemingly drearier days that somehow held more hope.
But it’s important I stay.
Because you can’t go home; we’ve all learned that lesson long ago.
Because the rain will pass, and the dead air may remain, but less oppressive than before– dilute.
Because maybe the weight of those regrets can be an anchor in this flood rather than a pair of cement shoes.
Because I ran away once for a reason, and as much as going home seems like an easy answer, it’s not what I need.
Nostalgia clouds the facts, but eventually, the rain stops. And I am myself again, Here and Whole. Grateful for eastern air, however heavy and dull. Grateful for newly clear eyes through which to see the past.
And even here, in the land of grey and concrete, through the glassy surfaces of puddles, beauty appears.