The older I get, the more I love the sun. Although at this point, I’ve forgotten what that debonair yellow orb’s glow feels like. Every day, I look out my window, and see the skies of Cold Bay, Alaska, a town that averages 354 cloudy days per year; my Houston suburb is quickly catching up. Even my dogs are depressed, longing to frolic in the backyard with their owner, who keeps herself firmly planted indoors. But if my Sunshine ever comes back, I’ll be ready, with my favorite denim shorts, black tank top, and bare feet. After only 15 minutes of basking in the warmth of his love, my overcast mood will revert to my natural sunny disposition. Flash can’t wait; last night, I woke to find him hanging a sun lamp from the ceiling of our bedroom, with it pointed directly at my face.
Given my love affair with the hottest thing in the universe, my daydreams lately consist of being on a beach somewhere. Not because I adore the beach; I’m more inclined to love inclines, both of mountains and large hills. But beaches remind me of my Sunshine. My childhood beach trips included long rides home from Galveston, my skin sweaty, sticky, and overcooked, and the constant chafing from sand on my butt. We didn’t shower and change clothes before leaving – that was all part of the experience.
In spite of my trauma, I’d take a sandy-butt day right now. If Sunshine would peek his head out over the crashing waves, I might even throw caution to the wind and wear a swimsuit. Add a beach house to the mix, filled with crazy kids and lots of dancing, and I’d be the next Annette Funicello, minus the voice and the bikini. And minus the surfing, which she and Frankie Avalon made look easy, if not surreal, in the movies. But with hanging ten comes the chance of sharks, jellyfish, undertow currents, etc. No thank you - I’ll remain a landlubber at the beach. But not Cowboy; he had his first surfing lesson at 14 years old, through Waves of Impact, an organization that travels around teaching special needs individuals. It was a balmy October day. Wrapped in my insulated sleeping bag, I shivered as I watched Cowboy walk into the freezing water. But he was undaunted. On his first try, he almost got up on his board. Then he wiped out. Teeth chattering, he went back out a second time. Second wipeout. But his third try was a charm, and he did it. He was surfing, and I was elated with pride, in spite of my hypothermia. Repeatedly, Cowboy surfed that day. The cold never bothers him anyway; I’m sure he’d be quite happy living in any climate.
But to me, a dreary beach is like soggy potato chips. A couple of years ago, my friend Bebe suggested we drive down to Galveston in her convertible. It had been a sunny week so far, so we thought we’d catch some rays while solving the world’s problems to the tune of the Gulf of Mexico. There would be no swimsuit wearing, no sitting on the sand, no butt chafing. It would be lovely.
The night before our excursion, she called me. “Hey, it looks like it’s supposed to rain tomorrow.”
“Oh no, I think that’s the day after. Tomorrow is a high of 76 degrees and only a 20 percent chance of rain,” I explained.
“Oh, okay,” Bebe replied, trusting my judgment and expertise in the field of meteorology.
The next morning, there were a few harmless clouds in the sky, but, fearing our wrath, they soon faded away. It was raining only a little as we pulled out of Bebe’s driveway, ready to begin our Island Paradise Day. We drove with the top up on her car all the way to Galveston, due to continuing rain, but I remained faithful to my predictions.
“It will clear,” I said, truthfully, because there’s nothing worse than a lying prognosticator.
Once on the island, the sun came out, the car top went down, and the music went up, as we drove along the seawall, singing at the top of our lungs. There were a few clouds over the water, so, just in case the Weather Gods dared to spit on our parade, Bebe put the top back up when we parked the car. We took our lounge chairs to the edge of the water, and enjoyed a breeze that was starting to get cooler.
“Those clouds will be gone in a couple of minutes,” I declared.
But the clouds got darker - black, you might say. And bigger. But still, we talked and laughed and drank our coffee, watching people swim - people who must have missed school the day they explained what happens when lightening hits the water.
I felt a drop of something wet hit my arm, then looked up to see if perhaps a seagull with incontinence had relieved itself on me. The sky was clear, except for a few ominous formations that threatened our tanning.
“Um, Bebe,” I excruciatingly admitted when 17 more drops hit me, “I think it’s raining a little.”
We picked up our chairs and strolled to the car, enjoying the sprinkles. And then the sprinkles turned to trickling streams. Suddenly, drops started coming faster and faster, as we ran faster and faster to the car. Due to our sprinting skills, we were only damp. We threw our chairs in the trunk, and got in just before the rain came down harder.
“It will pass quickly,” I said, not having learned anything about my weather skills.
After the downpour ended, we got out of the car. It still looked cloudy. But it just rained, I told myself, so it won’t rain again this soon. Mentally, I was comparing the likelihood of more precipitation to how often we humans have to empty our bladders; it would be a while before Mother Nature needed to empty her clouds.
“Do you want the umbrellas I brought?” I asked, my self-doubt revealed, as I pulled them out of the trunk.
“No, we’re good,” Bebe said, in her overly optimistic manner. I started to grab them anyway to pay penance for believing the weather forecast in the first place, but decided she was right. We left the chairs in the car, and decided to take a walk down the beach. As we ventured closer to the water, and further from the car, the wind felt good whipping through our hair. It was cool wind. But it was more than a slight wind. And it was an increasingly wet wind.
“Um, Bebe,” it pained me to say, “it’s raining again.”
But it was merely another light sprinkle. So we continued our walk.
Then, because we were light years from the car, had kicked off our shoes near a garbage barrel in the midst of our walk, and had no umbrellas, the bottom dropped out of the sky. A deluge. We frantically scurried around, looking for our shoes at each barrel. The rain was coming down in sheets, and I could hear Bebe, blinded by a billion drops of rain on her contact lenses, screaming in the distance, “I can’t see anything, so let me know if I’m gonna step on something.” To anyone watching, our beach running was a far cry from the opening montage of Baywatch, where the beach babes with perfect bodies are gracefully galloping over the sand. Finally, we found our shoes and strolled to the car, as the tsunami raged.
The next day in Galveston was clear and sunny. Of course. But not this week; the entire city of Houston and surrounding areas are soaked to the bone. Apparently, Mother Nature is ticked off about something. In the forecast for the next 15 days, only one day is predicted to be sunny. And not even an entire day, just the first half. It’s not even April yet. If April showers bring May flowers, what could February and March showers bring, other than insanity? The drip, drip, dripping on my windowpane is a constant cacophony in the backdrop of my life. As I wrote this, dear reader, the rolling thunder drove my pitiful dogs to drink straight vodka, disguised as water in their bowl, and they snacked on tryptophan treats. I considered partaking with them.
I wonder, is it raining everywhere in the world? Is there cloud cover in Bora Bora? Is there not one square inch of dry land on the surface of this earth? Is everyone as miserable as my dogs and I?
My friends Ladybug and Bunyan live in a Seattle suburb. On purpose. They moved there from Tennessee, and they’re happy there. Photos of the incredible landscapes surrounding them grace Ladybug’s Facebook page, and I long to go there. But that would entail possibly more sunless days than I’m having here in Texas. I don’t know how they do it; they must have a secret Sun Machine in their basement, supplying them with massive amounts of vitamin D, to keep their moods elevated. Still, I’ve always wanted to visit Seattle. Then again, it seems, I’m already there.
And so, dear reader, I continue to dream of palm trees swaying in a hot wind as I relax in a lounge chair on a scorching beach. One day, maybe the sky will be blue again, and the only water near me will be in the form of waves. Until that dream comes true, I’ll keep my window blinds closed to hide the bleak scenery, watch Sahara every day, and sleep under that sun lamp. Whatever it takes to live in this cloudy, waterlogged world.