Recently, when I can’t think of anything substantive to write about I have been forcing myself to write about anything. The other day it was raining, so I made myself write about rain.
Thinking about rain almost always makes me think about Manhattan; of waking up as a child and knowing it had rained in the night before I even opened my eyes.
First it would be the sound, the way the tires moving down Broadway would swish along the pavement. A sound like the suction of a kiss, or a long lick by a rough tongue. And the metallic sighs of the buses and the garbage trucks, which seemed to rise from the street into my ears at a more leisurely pace after a storm. Then would come the cool grey sensation of the air inside my nostrils. In the fall it smelled like dead leaves, on hot summer mornings it had the quality of damp coal.
Waking up after a rain in my parents’ ninth-story apartment may be my most powerful sense memory from childhood. One that unfailingly fills me with the particular sleepy comfort of being young in the bed I grew up in, the security of home soft around me even, or especially, in unconsciousness. When I think of what it felt like to be a kid in Manhattan, this is one of the pleasures I remember. Floating high above the street, with the sounds and smells of it seeping in through an open window. Reminding me that I was a part of the city, that all I needed to do is rise and step outside.