The weather is so perfect that it could be used to program a holodeck, if we actually had holodecks. It's the beginning of Australia's fall, and, like everything else, they do it a little bit differently from everyone else. A lot of the trees are bare, and the gingkos' leaves have all turned the same almost archetypal yellow. The sky is a crisp blue and the air is California-clear. The sunlight even seems brighter here. You can feel sea-wind from the harbors and it gives a strange kind of unity to the experience; the light and the wind and the smells all seem to move in concert. No one could possibly complain about this weather, even Australians, who are nitpicky and ungenerous about their own weather in the kind of way that a denigrating parent might complain about their gifted child.
So I'm not going to say that I miss the bad weather. Even though that's what I'm thinking. I can't say I really enjoyed my last two New York winters, which were both miserable and totally unromantic,* nor can I say the (minor) Sydney flooding was a particularly wonderful experience. Still, I do like bad weather. I like freezing, horrible, drizzly, depressing days, and I have no idea why. Actually I do, because I especially like it in cities. Everyone goes home, or stays in the office, or pretends to be dead or down with the flu. I like feeling like I own the streets. I like that no one asks me to take their picture or begs for directions (both of which they do, with distressing regularity.) I like the feeling of water in the air. For the same reason, I like running around in the middle of the night too, in areas of town which are, frankly, stupid for anyone to be in alone in, let alone a tiny woman who could probably manage to be assaulted by a brick wall.** But I do both anyway, because essentially I am the kind of person who doesn't have enough sense to come in out of the rain.
There's something a dark and depressing places that provides a kind of solitude which you can't find anywhere else. And it seems like the more I lose people the more I like to be alone. It's not just that though, because there's something very deep, almost visceral about it, that comes before thinking or even impulse. I feel about wet nights the way people seem to feel about waking up to bright sunshine. Maybe it just has to do with two decades worth of season shifts. I was vicious in my hatred of Floridian summers and probably I associate fog with cool mornings.†
There's the memory of fog in the Smokies too, a sensation tangled up in my mind with the smell of woodsmoke and coffee made in an Italian espresso pot. It's also the smell of moldy basement, decaying leaves, and the lumberyard in the center of town, which I passed regularly and despised more than anyone else in my family. In fact I didn't even like North Carolina that much. But I keep coming back to it, as little as I really like the boredom of woods and the awful tedium of everyone who lives there†† I miss something about it, though I can't think what it is really. It's something like the sensation of running very fast in no particular direction, or standing very still in a breeze that's so strong that it feels like it could blow you away.
* It's like this: the English countryside, for instance, is entitled to have horrible weather. Horrible storms and floods, crashing lightening, sleet, hail, the works. We have to have a suitably dramatic setting for our overworked plots etc. But no city should be allowed to have such awful frost-bite potential. Cities represent all the achievements of civilization, and we should have the weather, or at least the trains, under control by now.
**Walls and I don't have a good relationship. Same with open dishwashers, tree roots, and open doors in the dark.
†And dew on the ridiculous golf courses, and swimming in the half-olympic pool right before dawn, and a million other things.
††Sorry, but it's true -- though city-people can be just as tedious, and they are harder to avoid politely.