“How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”
– William Faulkner
Petrichor is distinct.
The rainy aroma is engrained in me as much as brewed coffee, or laundry straight from the dryer.
When I feel the first few drops on my skin, I pause for a moment in my walk across the parking lot on the gray July day. I can’t stop myself from smiling. And before I know it, I’ve turned my face skyward. Already it smells like home.
“What’re you doing, weirdo?” Moryah asks me. She stops some feet ahead.
“It’s raining,” I say. My eyes are closed as the drops land on my face. If I keep this up, I won’t be able to see out of my glasses. That’s okay though, I’ve missed this.
The drops fall faster from the gray and splatter on everything. Professors rush between buildings, and I’m stopped on the cobblestone.
I laugh and turn back to Moryah. She’s staring at me like I’ve lost my mind.
“Are you done?”
“Sorry. It hasn’t rained in a while,” I say. We walk towards the Student Center, water sloshing into our shoes, and hurry through the sliding double doors. I pause near the tables and make a vain attempt to clean my glasses with my soaked shirt. Goosebumps rise on my arms from the water as it cools my skin. It’s a relief compared to the humid afternoon the day before.
The rain falls faster here. New Hampshire rain is hard. It pounds into the earth and flows wherever it pleases.
Seattle rain is steady. It’s a soundtrack woven through my memories. To most, it’s like static on the radio.
On a typical fall Sunday in Seattle, the average tourist will see the gray sky and showers as a damper to their visit. I sip my coffee by Ghost Alley Espresso and watch the tourists under hotel umbrellas snap selfies by the gum wall.
The city keeps going.
Seattle doesn’t halt for gray-skied days or rainy weeks. People wade through petrichor at the start of a storm as it wafts from the pavement. They catch buses and shop at the farmer’s market.
I once heard someone say, “It’s not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
That sounded like a stupid phrase. Why would anyone dance in the rain?
After a rough breakup first semester, I stumbled across that phrase somewhere on the Internet. As I read it over in my dorm room in New Hampshire, I pictured home.
The Space Needle against the gray sky with rain thrumming around it. People continue on their errands in the sweet earthy air with their hoods up or umbrellas open. They wouldn’t let the showers stop them.
The house built by my single-mom withstood rainstorms. I couldn’t let my home down and hide. I wasn’t raised to turn my back on who I was or where I’d come from.
Petrichor is distinctly home.