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Rainy day romanticism

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NOVEMBER 15, 2021

Last week, I set forth on a walk through the rain. The water lightly fell upon my yoga mat as I made my way through Downtown Berkeley, but I didn’t mind. Part of me enjoyed the cold breeze as it touched upon my face, cooling me off after what was arguably the hottest yoga class of my life. 

As often occurs on a rainy day, I entered into one of those moments in which you can’t help but romanticize your life. Just for a little while, everything seems to fall into place; you gently hover in the quiet air and embrace the aesthetics of the moment. As I walked with my head high and a black umbrella in my hand, a car drove past playing “Jolly Holiday” from “Mary Poppins.” I half expected the wind to pick me up and whisk me into the colorful world of the English nanny. 

Instead, the wind flipped my umbrella inside out, and I dropped my yoga mat on the wet pavement. As I battled against the elements, I watched the pink foam sink into a muddy puddle. What started as a peaceful walk ended with a parade of expletives in front of my apartment building. 

Yet, against my better judgment, I continue to romanticize the rain. There is an undeniable beauty in the way the fog rolls over the hills and the water glimmers over the grayness. Rigid forms become softer and seem to lose their physical form. All seems to melt into a near-empty landscape of falling water and projected dreams. 

Despite my less-than-perfect experiences, I like to come as close to the rain as I can. I curl up next to the window and watch as the rivulets make their way down the glass. I lightly place my head against the thick surface and attempt to make out the rhythm of their fall. Outside is the cold that robbed me of my yoga mat, but inside is a space of cultivated autumn comfort, smelling of mocha and chestnut.

I cannot quite explain why, but there are certain songs that demand to be played on a rainy day. Lana Del Rey’s “Thunder” has the ceaseless, roaring qualify of the physical elements. Phoebe Bridgers’s “Scott Street” meditates on past heartbreak with thoughtful simplicity. Taylor Swift’s “Ivy” takes me to the place where the spirit meets the bone; as I surrender to the melody, I can feel the green grow over my house of stone like a warm blanket. 

I didn’t purposefully make a playlist of rainy day songs — they all sort of came together based on that inexplicable feeling. It started with adding a string of songs to a queue, and they eventually made their way into a collection titled “Rainy Day Romanticism.” There’s an infectious warmth that radiates from each track, making you want to curl up under the covers — matcha in hand — and fall in love with the unceasing pitter-patter. 

I can say with a fair amount of certainty that I’m not the only one who feels this way. I see my friends with their aptly named rainy day Spotify playlists; they happen to play just as the sidewalk begins to bear the imprint of isolated water droplets. None of our playlists are identical, yet they seem to be born of that same hard-to-place feeling. It is as though a spell descends over each of us, and it demands to be acknowledged in the form of music. 

As I stare out the window, I like to think that we are all united in the shared accompaniment of the rain outdoors. The falling water forms a soft layer of percussion that flows over the verses. The unceasing rhythm fills the quiet space in between tracks. It is there when I go to sleep, and it is there when I wake up. I can’t help but find comfort in the constancy and the collectivity. Even in the cold, there emerge little pockets of warmth threaded together by an evasive feeling and an endless sound. 

When the sun peeks out from behind the clouds, the Berkeley landscape shimmers in newness. In each reflected puddle, there exists the promise of a new day, when we can freely cast off our rubber boots and waterproof coats. Though I love the clear blue of the sky, part of me hopes the clouds will reappear and the water will gently fall upon the roof of my apartment building once more. 

Then, I can surrender to the all-encompassing melody, existing within and without. Call me a romantic, but I truly believe that music exists all around us; it is our only job to embrace the sound. So, against my better judgment, I sit and anticipate the next Berkeley rain. I know as the pitter-patter starts its steady beat, the clouds will begin to roar — and Del Rey’s voice too. 

Lauren Harvey writes the Monday A&E column on the relationship between art and the unspoken. Contact her at [email protected].
LAST UPDATED

NOVEMBER 29, 2021


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