Rainy season is among us, and it’s more insistent than in recent years. Two weeks now, but tomorrow finally looks to be the last of it. Rain in California is different than rain elsewhere. It can be dangerous. Just a few inches, and news outlets scramble to keep up with mudslides, flash floods, and car accidents caused by slick roads. It comes down in spurts, rather than in steady streams. It’ll trickle for a while, just a light sprinkle, and then there’ll be a flash of lightning, a clap of thunder, and a violent downpour that never lasts longer than five minutes. Sometimes there’s hail, and everybody logs on to Twitter.
My friend Maggie once described me to someone by saying, “She likes good weather.” That’s accurate. I like sunny skies and warm air, foliage and greenery, and learned, upon moving to California, that I love succulents and cacti. When I lived in New York, I was amused by the odd olfactory experience of the city. “Every corner has its own smell,” is a phrase used as frequently as “Only in New York” to describe the city’s unique qualities. You feel tough, unshakeable, thick-skinned, when you know that putrid aromas can’t assail your devotion to the world’s greatest city. A rainstorm tends to momentarily stifle the myriad odors, but not for long.
In Los Angeles, you’d use the word scent rather than smell, as it really is a fragrant town (cherry blossoms in the spring, pine in the summer, maple and other perennials in the autumn). I am swayed by things like this. I’ll pause on a walk in the Hollywood Hills to determine the source of some lovely scent, and my feelings for California will be strengthened.
Joseph and I are fortunate enough to live in a neighborhood that is extremely walkable by LA standards, and even, I’d say by San Francisco standards. One of our favorite things to do is to walk to the Hollywood and Vine neighborhood for dinner and drinks. It’s a thriving, bustling boulevard, Hollywood between La Brea and Gower, and it helps us feel like we still live in a cosmopolitan city. Last weekend, we had reservations at Katsuya for 8pm, but it was raining, as it had been for days. We momentarily embodied an Angeleno stereotype when we considered driving the single mile, rather than walking in the rain. I’m proud to say that we didn’t succumb. We dug umbrellas out of the closet, and we walked. In the rain. Like New Yorkers. And I reveled in how nice our wet city smelled.