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Greetings from The Monsoon

2004-06-29 - 4:14 p.m.

Once upon a time, I loved puddles. I loved watching them, particularly when it was still raining and every drop was a study in geometry and chaos theory. I loved seeing things float on them, imagining that I had shrunk down to the size of an ant and was riding on a leaf or a branch, holding on for dear life against the ravages of the flood. I even loved splashing around in them, in particular the squidgy sounds your wet socks made in your shoes afterwards.

I was younger then.

Today, as I ran through the Whole Foods parking lot in the driving rain, I found myself running through a puddle, and the feeling of lukewarm water soaking into every inch of my sandals only made me scream out "Motherfucker!" to the horror of the surrounding soccer moms.

I'm just kidding. It was raining too hard for anyone to hear me. I could barely hear myself.

This June has been the wettest in the history of Central Texas, and boy has it gotten to be really annoying. The rain has come every week, in every shape and size. We have had to deal with light misty rain that sticks to the skin and fat pounding rain that keeps you awake at night. We have come to know the rain that comes and goes, teasing us by lasting just long enough to make the day unbearably humid, and the rain that stays all day and all night, the kind that manages to drop daytime temperatures to an unheard of 68 fahrenheit and make driving on the highway into an extreme sport.

That's the kind we have right now. I feel like I need a kayak to make it to the local supermarket.

I am not used to this much summer rain. When I was growing up in San Antonio, we had droughts every summer, like clockwork. I can't remember the first time I heard we had reached water rationing, but I was little enough to panic at the thought of water rationing. I was thirsty all the time as a child, and was terrified that I wouldn't be able to have my daily requirment of Kool Aid. My mother explained to me that I didn't have to worry, and that it would be a long time before I'd even have to worry about not being able to take a bath (not that I cared about that--I was one of those kids who saw bathing as an example of grown-up capitulation to fascist dogma). What it meant, as I came to know, was that if you wanted to water your lawn during the day, you had to make sure that your neighbors did it, too, so that if they tried to rat you out, you could always squeal on them in return.

I grew up thinking of summer as a yellow season, when all the grass dried up and it didn't seem all that shocking that Texas was at the same latitude as Egypt. I tended to stay out of the sun, spending time outside only if I were by a pool or on a beach. Summer without a large body of water was pretty much unbearable. In fact, I lived in fear that we would come to the point where droughts would be severe enough to close pools. I'd never leave the house.

In the past few years, though, there has been a change. Granted, July and August are they're usual hot, dry selves, but spring has reclaimed May and has staked a claim on June, at least in terms of the rain. When I graduated from college, I was amazed to return home to green hills and lush lawns and water falling from the sky. I was elated by how beautiful everything was for about 24 hours, which was how long it took for my body to remember that it was allergic to everything that had been given a new lease on life by the wet weather.

I never hated rain so much in my life.

Right now, my allergies are active but not in maximum overdrive, so I remain relatively neutral towards the rain. It's nice to have our aquifers full. However, as I mentioned earlier, the rain has turned the highway into something of a large scale Schlitterbahn, and those who do not live in Central Texas will have to guess at what I meant by that.

The problem is that Texans do not know how to drive in the rain. We either slow down to a crawl or decide to take the Slip'n'Slide approach. Once upon a time, I took the Slip'n'Slide approach right into a concrete freeway divider. Since then, I tend to err on the side of crawl, but I still drive faster than a lot of people who have been known to take a light drizzle as a sign from God that he had left "Thou shalt not travel at more than 32 mph" off the list of commandments simply because he thought that The Ten Commandments would make a better movie title.

People die in rain like this, although not necessarily because of Slip'n'Sliding on the highway. Most people die because they are stubborn and stupid, and they decide that theirs is the automobile that will defy history and physics and get through the low water crossing. I, for one, am willing to make a U-turn in the middle of the street when confronted by thousands of gallons of mud-brown water stampeding across the road at breakneck speeds, but that just might be me. I feel sorry for the people who aren't comfortable with that decision, and for their families. However, I am grateful that they are no longer in the gene pool.

The rain outside has gone back down to drizzle levels. I hope it clears up soon. I'd love to have a day to lounge out in the sun before I head out to Berkeley to find an apartment. In fact, I hope tomorrow brings sunshine so strong that all the puddles evaporate. You see, if they don't, the mosquitos will see it as an opportunity for another summer of love, and guess who has to feed all those kids.

Oh, how I hate the rain.

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