I made my intention clear in the first few weeks after the marital tsunami – once the divorce was final and the school year over, I was going to leave my former life behind and move across the country to Seattle.
As I saw it, there was only one little problem.
As a lifetime resident of the south, I was accustomed to huge sky-opening downpours followed by endless days of sun. And Seattle, with its endless drizzle beckoned like a form of impending water torture.
And since I had yet to master the art of controlling the weather, I decided that I needed to work on changing my approach to it instead.
My normal approach was to wait for the nice days to go for a hike or a run. And on those inevitably rainy days, I would tuck into a good book or carry my laptop to a seat by the window where I could work while listening to the rain. In my determination to acclimate, I upended my tendencies, actively seeking the rainy days for my outdoor pursuits.
My early approaches were rather comical. I would cover every inch of skin, as though the falling water would cause blisters to rise on unprotected flesh. I would pull my cap down low over face, intent on shielding my eyes from even the smallest drop. And before venturing out, I would steel myself in my car, a pep talk before greeting the downpour.
I went out the rain, yet I fought against the rain. I saw it like a battle. One I was determined to win through sheer will alone. And I guess I did okay. I refused to allow the precipitation to dictate my day. I carried on regardless of the weather. I allowed the rain to wash the sweat off my limbs and to carry away my tears.
But I still wasn’t ready. Because I still didn’t get it.
Then came the day of my first-ever race. A 10K. Longer than I had ever run. The day came with a cold dampness heavy in the dark. I blasted the heat in my car as I drove across town to the starting point. I felt a hesitant confidence. Excitement mixed with apprehension as the coffee pooled in my belly.
Buoyed by the energy at the starting line, I took my place in the group with building confidence. And with my first few steps came the first few drops of rain. Within the first mile, the light drizzle had turned into a steady rain, each drop like a cold steel ball dropped upon my skin. My skin, unprotected by a hat or excess clothing.
I felt my spirits drop and with them, my certainty that I could do this thing. Doubts crept into my mind as the rising water found its way into my shoes and through my socks. I cursed the sky for letting it rain and I cursed myself for not being prepared.
In my lowest moment, I saw the frontrunner on their return to the starting point, as this was an out-and-back course. I almost turned around and gave up with the belief that the rain was too much for me. That I needed to seek shelter and wait for sunnier days.
And then I remembered my goal for the year – to adapt to the rain. To accept the difficult times and continue nonetheless. To refuse to wait until conditions were ideal to make a move and to trust in my ability to make it through.
And so I kept going that morning. One step at a time. Two hours later, I crossed the finish line. Cold. Shaking. And soaked through to the core.
But also triumphant. Because the storm didn’t stop me. My own tears soon joined those from the sky, streaking down my face.
Because the only thing to do when it’s raining, is let it rain.