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Looks Like Rain: Heartbeat, Heartbreak

By Margaret Lin

Sometimes, I wish I were a novel character. For one, I would never have to worry about dying (unless my author was JK Rowling), because I’d exist forever embedded within the pages of a book: you’d just have to flip back to the beginning of the book and voila! Instant Reincarnation™! Unfortunately, I am mortal, and must die.

Cheery thoughts, huh?

In the midst of any existentialist crisis, rain is your best friend because it runs the whole gamut of human emotions. (Needless to say, rainy Vancouver and I have a complicated relationship.)

Here, where rain is ever plentiful, the rain is a summer blessing and an afterschool curse. When the rain washes steel and glass towers clean, calm somehow settles over the strangers dashing from awning to shelters. On the other hand, waiting at the bus shelter – only to be doused by passing cars before sloshing your way onto the bus – is easily the bane of my classmates’ lives. Well, besides, “Should I use this $120 textbook as an umbrella?” (And no, because high school books are as durable as tissue paper.)

No matter how many days I’ll spend in Vancouver waiting for the sun, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Vancouver has rain for every mood: rain for depression, a drab and drizzly grey; rain for serenity that trickles down windows while you cocoon yourself in duvets; rain for anger that lashes the windows and howls at your soul; rain for redemption, when sins are washed clean; and rain for joy, when youth runs on fleet feet through puddles and mud in bright yellow boots.

In books, rain often means depression, sadness, any variant thereof etc. To my classmates, the persistent drizzle is another reason not to live here.
And since I’m an angsty teenager, rain is a great companion when I need to choke back tears. (Cue the drama.) In Vancouver, we tend to hide ourselves from the rain under multicolored umbrellas or olive-green sports jackets. Sure, rain brings strangers together when they huddle to stay dry under a bus shelter, but it’s an excuse for self-imposed solitude. Of course, when rain and tears coincide in a book, it’s usually so the author can scream, “THIS IS A METAPHOR FOR SADNESS. IT’S VERY SAD, OKAY?”
In reality, it just gives me an excuse to be alone. Loneliness in the midst of Vancouver isn’t too bad… Cars fly by, their taillights blurred by a watery veil, and I think about the brief moments by the sidewalk I share with people whom I will never see again.

Rainy Vancouver is a serene place when I need to gather my thoughts. The reds and greens of traffic lights mellow out, and the sterile glare of office lights softens to fuzzy creams and golds. There’s no better weather for curling up with a good book and a mug of tea than the gentle dappling of rain outside your window. It’s an excuse to sit back, relax, and lose yourself in a book.

Of course, not all rains are relaxing. Rain drumming on the pavement warns everyone a storm is brewing. There comes a moment when even the calmest person has enough, and their rage breaks loose like the deluge. Extra points for lightning and thunder. According to books, arguments are always more dramatic in the rain. I’ve only had some fights in the rain, but I don’t care to remember them beyond the bitter taste of betrayal soaking in my mouth.

For all the doom and gloom that the rain brings, there’s rain for “redemption.” In school, to survive the academic Game of Thrones, you had to Brutus and Anthony your way through life and leave those who couldn’t keep up with you behind. I remember the exhaustion soaked into my friend’s skin after our Chem teacher snapped at him for joking around instead of finishing a difficult equilibrium lab, and I remember how I failed to follow him when he ran from the room on the verge of a breakdown.

I don’t think I deserved his forgiveness for my lack of loyalty to a friend. But I remember when we reconciled, it was under rain that dappled his sweatshirt and coursed off my umbrella.

Rain is the pulse that flows through Vancouver. It drives us apart but is just as likely to bring us together. Vancouver may be a pricy place to live, but it’s worth it. It’s worth the clean scent of rain wiping the skyscrapers clean, and the pitter-patter of raindrops dripping onto ferns tucked behind ancient pines. It’s worth twirling your umbrella and spraying your friend with thousands of droplets, and laughing when she splashes into a puddle to spray you back. It’s worth huddling under a thick duvet during a stormy night, and a light jog through a drizzly mist in the early morning.

This year, I joined my classmates while waiting the buses that never arrive when you need them, particularly on rainy days. (Bonus points if it showers you in brown sewer-juice as it passes your stop.) While my friends moan and gripe, I look around me and wonder at the improbability of my existence.

What a time I live in, when wheels and wires briefly connect my life with strangers whom I’ve never met and will never meet again. Strangers sporting slick rain jackets in autumn could wear tank-tops and booty shorts in the summer, and I would hardly remember them. I live in a city of glass, concrete and steel – in the midst of strangers, either glued to their phones or quietly conversing to smiling friends. I shouldn’t feel like I belong at the bus stop with them, because I’m a nerd whose nose is perpetually stuck in a book. But Vancouver feels like home to me. And it’s home to those strangers too.

Then a particularly large raindrop will splash onto my glasses, and I’ll remember, “Dude. You’re just waiting for the bus. Snap out of it.”

 

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