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  • Drew Dotson

Rain, rain, you can stay [a while]

Nothing quite brings me to life like the feeling before a thunderstorm — as the wind picks up and electricity builds in the air. I've always been drawn to rain.


I loved storms as a child. When it looked like rain, I didn't want to go inside; I wanted to go outside and immerse myself in that magical energy. In high school, when I worked at Planet Smoothie (title: Blender Tender), friends would come to work as I closed up shop. We spent many nights frolicking in the parking lot, barefoot, as the warm summer rain fell upon us.


I felt energized.


One summer, probably a decade ago, Ramón and I sat in lounge chairs on the beach during a family vacation. Gray clouds slowly overtook the sky, but we weren't ready to go in for the day. Grains of sand lifted off the surface, and we reached our limit when sand entered our mouths.


Ramón and I headed up toward the house with our cooler of drinks, and we set ourselves up underneath a balcony, watching the cars go by. We stayed outside, under cover, as the rain intensified. I don't know what inspired us, but we started using our phones to play songs we liked when we were growing up. The longer it rained, the more we drank.


We were teeming with life.


Recently, I created another rain memory — this one a bit more adventurous / borderline foolish.


The first morning my boyfriend, John, and I were in Wales in November, the sky was a beautiful shade of blue, the rising sun illuminating everything in gold. But, in the distance, there were ominous, dark clouds.


"Oh, you should be fine on this side of the mountain," our cottage owner, Garreth, assured us when we told him our plan to hike up the mountain looking over his sheep farm.


This wasn't going to be a leisurely stroll. Rather, the mountain, Moel Hebog, was 2,569 feet high. You should be fine.


And we were fine. For a while. We slowly shed layers of clothing as the temperature — and our heart rates — increased. I can't pinpoint the exact moment something changed, but a fine mist engulfed us. It grew thicker the higher we climbed. Suddenly, we turned around to admire how far we'd come, and we couldn't see a damn thing.


We hurried to put our layers back on as rain started falling with a fierceness. The temperature dropped and the wind whipped. I envisioned myself on one of those nature-versus-ill-equipped-human shows. I could hear the narrator: "She was found suffering from hypothermia, as her LOFT sweater and jeans weren't designed for the elements."


We made the smart decision to turn around and quickly started scrambling down the mountain. The wet ground and steep grade combined to create the perfect slipping conditions, especially in my fashion boots. We were soaked through to the bone. I thought my coat was waterproof, but I guess, at a certain point, nothing is. I felt the standing water in my boots squishing as I navigated my way back down, moving with purpose.


Pellet-sized sheep turds smothered and covered (and chunked?) the ground in every direction. Each step was deliberate as I tried to avoid sheep crap. By this point, my mind had moved on from the nature-versus-idiot plot. Instead, I was reeling over the fact that sheep could climb this high and defecate on the turf that, at times, I thought would be my resting place.


But we made it back to the cottage. I shivered so hard it rendered me unable to put the key in the lock to get inside. John's hands weren't working as he tried to untie his boots. Once we made it inside, I stood in front of the radiator, too pained to begin removing any of my rain / mud-soaked clothing. And our shoes would sit on that radiator for the next several days as we waited for them to dry out, sometimes with a hairdryer in hand.


Our extreme-hiking adventure was dicey at times, but I was so freakin’ alive.


Well, this got awkward because today’s weather inspired my post. I started writing it from the porch swing as I enjoyed the stormy atmosphere, but now there’s a tornado warning.


Stay safe, Georgia.

This was on the way up — the "before." We were incapable of taking an "after."


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