Right now, it’s 75 some degrees in Chicago with clouds overhead and rain looming. There is a particular sense and smell about this sort of weather that always takes me back to my childhood, and it always brings me back to these snapshots of my life.
In summer, the chance of this happening is much more frequent, and it also has the potential to add the element of that wild, strange electricity that’s around right before a big storm, that taps right into my bones, into my blood. I’ve done some reading, and it seems like there might be something to subsonic frequencies (infrasound) that very few people can detect during storms (dogs are good at it, though). It’s not like you hear anything, but you can sense the waves. I’m suspecting I’m one of those people … instead of fear and anxiety, though … it more goes to the awe/slightly manic end. I LOVE storms.
The backstory to this particular picture that comes up a lot is that after a certain age, we were allowed to stay home by ourselves during the summer break. We went swimming a LOT (always with a huge group) and rode bikes on the trails behind the subdivision and played games (made up olympics, baseball, soccer, jumprope, 4-square, whatever). We were nearly always outside. However, growing up in Wisconsin, there is the threat of storms and tornadoes from time to time. I learned if the sky gets gray-green, it’s not good and if things get REAL quiet ALL OF A SUDDEN, it’s time to get the fuck out of there.
Back to the picture — whenever the sky and air and weather is like this, I see myself just outside of my backyard in Speck’s* yard … and the sky is dark gray and the wind is whipping through my neighborhood — a storm is coming. It’s still warm, but the wind will soon bring a cold front. And because of the dark gray of the sky in the middle of the day or … I don’t know what, the grass looks a brilliant green and the houses are sort of radiant — even though my house is mustard yellow and the neighbors’ are white and beige and nothing too exciting. I feel SO MUCH ENERGY, I run around and spin in circles. I just want to scream and dance and laugh.
I don’t know if anyone was even with me down there … my sister was probably in the house; she hates storms. I just remember feeling electric and free. I guess I’ve never really talked about this out loud; it’s such a visceral and powerful memory, that it’s hard to put words to. If you are a storm lover and live somewhere where they are a thing, you might know what I mean.
I’ve always read that nervousness and excitement are *exactly* the same to the body; it’s the mind spin we put on something that makes it bad or good. All I know is that I love that memory and that feeling. When I was thinking about writing this down, I wondered, “What the hell did we do when it poured?” And I guess that took me back to my parents’ garage. For a lot of my childhood, it was pretty clean and unencumbered. We roller skated there, we hung out. I have a vision of standing in the garage, watching the rain pour down. So, there was a chance that we did that.
I never remember ever having or using an umbrella when I lived at my parents’ house. That’s sort of weird, right? We didn’t have sidewalks, either. And as I ride my bike around the city, I am often reminded how we were taught, back in the day, to ride against traffic (which is a horrible idea!). But I guess it made sense in a small town in the 80s. Back in the day where our parents would get a break from watching us swim by following the order of the day and telling us we had to wait …15-30 minutes before we could go back in the campground pool or our friends’ pool. Ah, the agony.
But I digress, a bunch of random summer memories for a really warm late-October day.
*Not RICHARD Speck, assholes. He was the uncle of our across-the-street neighbor and it was the summer home for him and his wife and their kids, who were older than us and super cute and we all had crushes on them.