The memory isn’t as crisp as I would like it, but it was back when jelly shoes were popular the first time. I was five or six and had a pair that were orange and smelled as much like strawberries as a piece of PVC plastic could. When a downpour visited us one spring or summer afternoon, I slipped them on and stepped out of our apartment. The thick rain had quickly swelled the gutters and dips in the pavement. Awestruck, I hesitated on the porch taking it all in before gingerly dipping a jellied toe into the nearest puddle. The chill water rushed around my partially protected feet. Satisfied, I plunged in, the water erupting around me. I was soaked through in less than a minute, but I giggled instead of shivered as I leapt from puddle to puddle choreographing my water ballet. I’m sure my parents watched me from the window as I splashed my way to utter sogginess. Perhaps they laughed or worried I’d catch a cold or planned what they’d do when I inevitably created a puddle in their entryway, but whatever they thought or worried about was irrelevant to me.
Maybe it’s because I grew up in a desert, but I’ve always loved rain. The fresh smell, how its sound drowns out ambient noise, the lightning that often accompanies it – I love it all. As the years have passed I’ve shied away from that carefree-puddle-jumping girl I used to be and traded her in for a more sensible version of me who enjoys the pitter-patter of rain on my roof from the inside of my warm house. Spring seems to have finally made it’s way to Colorado and it brought along the rain that both the land and my soul long for. When Noel came home from work yesterday and asked if I wanted to go for a run with him (since my brother is visiting and could watch the kids) I made a list of a million sensible excuses for why this was a bad idea. It would surely be cold, I had to make dinner, it would be such a hassle to clean all of our soggy, muddy clothes, et cetera. Maybe it’s because Noel inadvertently pointed out how boring I’ve become when I recently tried to convince him that yard work is a perfectly wonderful form of leisure or maybe it’s because I’ve been reading The Happiness Project for book club and giving a great deal of thought to what it means to “Be Audrey,” but after only a little thought I relented.
We zipped up our rain jackets and headed out into the rain to a nearby trail. We made slow progress up the mountain since our footing was incredibly unstable in the slick mud. The rest of the world was taking the sensible route, so we were alone in our hysterical laughter at our comical ascent. Once on top, we enjoyed a short period of normal running before we began our slip-sliding descent where we practically skied down the side of the mesa. We emerged from the trail looking like swamp monsters – our hair matted to our faces, our bodies splattered with mud. The last half mile was a paved route back to our house. Squealing with glee, I jumped in every puddle we came across and Noel soon joined me. Back at the house we hosed our shoes off and took quick showers. Dinner was indeed delayed which made the children a little testy, but I felt an invigorating exuberance that made their pre-dinner whining more bearable than usual. There is something respectable about being sensible, but every once in a while a lack of sensibility can make life a lot more enjoyable.