I wake up and my windows are wide-open, cold, fresh air pumping into my small dorm room. It smells crisp, clean and earthly, and I’m immediately wide-awake.
When I walk out of the dorm, I’m greeted by sidewalks painted dark black by the precipitation, a cool breeze draping over my neck like a light scarf, and spherical droplets cradled in leaves sprawled across damp dirt. My feet splash through puddles of muddy water as I make my way to my bike to head to class.
Days like these, I feel like my world has been amplified by the recent storm, like it is slightly brighter and clearer.
When I was a child, I’d spend hours in my driveway, jumping through shallow puddles and delighting in splashing water on my sister. At night, when I couldn’t sleep or was afraid of the demons that hid in the dark corners of my room, I’d listen to the soft pattering of rain on the skylight near my bed. Somehow the constant pattering of water droplets on the plastic over my head seemed like soft kisses from the outside world, lulling me to sleep.
The rain was a playmate and a comfort to my childhood self, and I loved the way that it would slowly turn the grass field outside my house from a straw yellow to a silky green, the way it brought out the strong scent of oak in the trees by my house, the way my hair would slowly dampen until it would hang limply around my head, swinging around as I ran through my childhood neighborhood.
I recently realized that my love of rain was not shared by all of my classmates. While I’ve lived in this area my entire life, the amount of rain the Bay Area has experienced this winter has definitely been above average.
When I talked to dorm-mates about this, they bemoaned the fact that they were supposed to be experiencing what they termed a “California winter,” which apparently included 0% precipitation and 100% sunshine every day. When I laughed and said that California had rainy days sometimes too, they glared at me and said, “This isn’t what I signed up for.” While I understand this opinion given the stereotypical image of a year-round sunny California, personally, I loved the barrage of rain this winter.
So to the rain that has blessed Stanford’s campus this winter: Thank you. Thank you for the memories you have given me — sprinting to the train station to try to make it to Big Game, sipping hot tea on gloomy days and watching rainbows appear on the far-away horizon, seeing Lake Lag slowly fill up and classmates attempt to raft in it.
Thank you for the lessons you have taught me. I learned that it is a good idea to buy a rain jacket and boots before the rainy season kicks in. I learned that sometimes all it takes is a little bit of water to bond with the people around you, because there’s nothing quite like a good rain shower to precipitate a bit of adventure. I learned that there is beauty in chaos when I drove to the beach with a friend and sat on the cold, wet sand overlooking a troubled sea violently meeting sheets of rain.
And I learned that there is no de-stressor quite like watching it rain lightly from somewhere dry and warm, pretending as though the water hitting the ground somehow washes away time and anxiety.
So while there are clear skies and sunshine in the forecast for a while, thanks for visiting campus this year. It might be an unpopular view, but my freshman year would not have been the same without you.
Contact Julie Plummer at jplummer ‘at’ stanford.edu.