When I look back through journals from my first few months in San Francisco I’m struck by how rainy the city was. I spent a lot of time writing about it because I didn’t have proper rain gear for my Vespa. For a short time I lived out by the beach and driving home left me chilled to the bone.
As the city slowly became a tech citadel, it became drier and drier, purely corollary, though poetically causative. Are the servers burning holes into the spirit of our age? Does this Mephistophelian heatwave come from the will of dork overlords? The Temple of the Four Hour Work Week and their ketogenic heresy burns off the spirit of the high priests of high carb granola. Lo! Lo! Lo!
West Oakland is where I live now and the streets are empty around my home. There are a few permanent tent clusters moored to unlicensed tiny home structures with a rusty graveyard of bicycles in front. Mattresses find their way into our streets, always tagged shortly after with the least clever work.
The hard rain always feels like a hard reset. It’s what the famously dirty streets of this town need. The potholes become ponds of chemical slick rainbow water. There are long stretches between the shhh sizzle sshhhhh of cars passing on wet roads. No one is out. I can hear the rain on the roof. I lay down and think about my old homes.
The rain was an initiation when I came to San Francisco. Its character was unlike the rain of New Orleans. In the South, rain comes at you from all angles. It’s fat and heavy and bounces. It’s greasy water, it sticks to you, makes your underpants sticky. Work a shift like that and you’ll know if you have what it takes to grow old in New Orleans.
In the North of California the rain comes in at a hard angle like a knife getting sharpened. It slices its way into the seams of your coat. When you realize you’ve been cut, the cold spreads. The best thing if you start shaking is to take a hot shower with a lover.
I always imagine a night of cold rain would be nice for a book or a warm blanket. I like to sit up, and think about old wars I’ve had. Things I did wrong. People who let me down. If I’m up after midnight, the rain blackens my thoughts. It’s the kind of grudge holding no amount of yoga seems to be able to get out of me. I go to those classes like they’re exorcisms sometimes.