Sorry... this is clearly unfinished, but this is all there is for now.
Rain has always been part of my mythology. When I was born, my father worked in flood control. That is to say that it was his job to keep the flood drains clear of debris. When it doesn’t rain most of the year, the flood channels have a lot of time to collect branches and trash and anything else that people threw over the fence or into the drain. The river bottom, that’s what we called it because there almost wasn’t ever any water there except when it rained, was the same. The reeds would grow high and the hobos took up residence in the river bottom. That’s what we called the homeless people of my youth maybe because my parents were children of the depression and that’s what they called homeless people. (Hobos were people who wandered because they wanted to not because Ronald Reagan had thrown them out of halfway houses and state hospitals. But hobos were not winos who sat around the park and drank something out of paper bags, wine I guess.)
So my dad had to keep the flood drains clear and the river bottom ready to receive the rain. All year round it was his job to check on the drains, but especially when it rained.
When it starts to rain and not stop, the water takes on a life of its own. It becomes that powerful force we know can become flash floods. The creeks and river beds and drainage ditches get full of those branches and trash that have been sitting around waiting for the rain to start. Those are the days my dad has to go out and stay out cleaning the ditches so the city blocks won’t flood. That’s flood control quite literally. It doesn’t matter if it is Monday or Thursday or Saturday or my mom’s birthday.
Flooding, when it happens, happens in late January, early February. Right around my mom’s birthday. It just so happens my mom went into labor one day in early February when it happened to be raining cats and dogs. My dad was out taking care of flood control day and night. It was before cell phones. So my mom went to the hospital with my grandma. I am not sure how they got there. It was before we were a two car family. I don’t know where my older brother and sister were. (Probably around the corner with my aunt and uncle and cousins.)
All I know is that my birth mythology goes something like this: My mom was in labor and it was her birthday. It was raining cats and dogs so my dad couldn’t be there with her. She suffered through her birthday secretly hoping I would decide to say hello to the world on her special day. Talk about guilt, not just suffering, suffering on your birthday.
Well, part of the mythology is the rain. It rained and rained and rained. Part is that my father was not with my mother when she needed him. And I had the potential to make my mother extremely happy by being born on her birthday, instead, I came one day too late and started on a long career of disappointing her.
Disappointments, little imperceptible disappointments that no one else would call disappointments, but she does. I am not sure if that is mythology or destiny. Still trying to figure it out. Maybe it was just raining and my mom likes to make people feel guilty. Perhaps the lesson was don’t take her complaints so seriously. That’s the hardest lesson to learn by far.
I have a tenuous relationship with water.
I don’t like water on my face especially near my eyes. As a child, my mother let me hold a wash cloth over my eyes when she washed my hair. She did this even though she thought my fear of soap was irrational. She did it even though she thought it was a sign of weakness. Just another in a series of disappointments.
Flashback: Favorite Cartoon
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