I was a pretty big fan of the rain when I was younger. As a wee lad, I especially enjoyed a summer shower, running out to play in the rain as if it were just a giant water park feature, splashing in the gutters. As I got older, I was just plain fascinated with how quickly the rain changed everything, from the appearance of the sky to the green of the grass and everything in between, including the potential damaging effect of resulting floods. I lived on the East Coast, and our basement flooded at least once that I can remember, to the point that all the flooring had to be replaced.
In my teen years, I became emotionally attached to storms—of course, as a teenager, we become emotionally attached to everything. Especially living in the desert, rain was (and is) so rare that its appearance always seemed magical and cathartic, like a celestial shower washing away all the dusty dullness of existence. It also came with a great post-storm side-effect: The “desert rain” smell, which I later learned was the Creosote Bush. I discovered it when my family first moved to Las Vegas in the late 1980s, and although it’s not as prominent 25 years later living in the center of decades-old urban development, it can still instantly strike up nostalgia when I do catch a whiff.
Some of my most prominent memories are of driving through late-summer downpours, my car practically floating, Alice in Chains’ Jar of Flies playing in my tape deck. Sitting here on my couch working just now, looking out the window at the grey, drizzling skies, Rob Dougan’s “Clubbed to Death” came up on Pandora, and it contained a sample that sounded a lot like one used by Moby a decade earlier on his EP Move, and suddenly I had a flashback to listening to Move on a portable cassette player while walking to or from a bus stop in light rain.
These days, rain can seem like an annoyance, as much as it’s a needed relief in our water-starved environment. It causes roof leaks. It makes for wet, smelly dogs. It leads to dirty floors. But sometimes that same rain can transport me to a different time when none of that mattered. Only the smell of the Creosote Bush, and the rap of the raindrops on a carport.