I used to think rain was a bad thing. It meant my carefree childhood would be interrupted by the realities of rent and the cost of groceries. I’d have to worry about why my mom and dad were upset…sometimes with each other. Rain brought a feeling of hopelessness into our house that wouldn’t leave until it stopped.
Rain meant that my dad didn’t work. Oh, sure, he’d get up early in the morning just like a normal work day. He would even make the call to his company to ask if they had anything going. He always sounded so comfortable with what he was hearing from the other end of the phone. I knew different. They rarely had anything going on a rainy day. If they did have something, that work went to someone with higher seniority. I learned at an early age what it meant to be low in seniority.
I didn’t have the same fun other kids had splashing in puddles. I remember one kid used to run as fast as he could and slide in the wet grass, just to see how far he could go. Every slide was a world record in his mind. Somehow I always had my parents in mind. I knew they were worried about how long the rain would fall. When would things dry out enough for dad to go back to work? Would this be a long winter? Would we make it to Spring?
Jeff Williams always wore his Mammoth Mountain sweatshirt in the winter. He used to go snow skiing on the weekends. Sometimes, his parents let him skip a day to go during the week. He was one of the kids with the cool owl eyes. The ones that come from having your sunglasses on while snow skiing. He knew that rain meant snow, and snow meant good ski conditions. I never skied as a child. That wasn’t an option. Rain meant no money, whatever the ski conditions.
Rain taught me early, too early, about the realities of economics. As each year passed, with the same cycle of foreboding, I decided I would never let rain threaten my economic life. When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, the list of choices I’d rattle off were always jobs that didn’t stop because of rain. It didn’t matter what the job was…only that the weather couldn’t touch it.
For my entire adult life, I’ve lived by the promise I made to myself as a child…always choosing jobs that the rain can’t touch. Today, I can enjoy rain. In fact, I’m listening to a passing shower as I write. I love the sound it makes, cascading off the roof. Rain has a unique purity. Nothing compares to the clear, brisk air after the rain has passed.
Yet, even as I appreciate the magnificent beauty of rain, I can’t help but feel a slight twinge of anxiety…an echo from my childhood.