The Smell of the Rain Washed Pavement

While I cheerfully admit to being a musical freak, the Frank Lessor song ‘I’ve Never Been In Love Before,’ from Guys and Dolls, has a powerful enough opening that every city dweller should love. The song opens the last scene of the first act, and gambler god Sky Masterson is returning from dinner in Havana with Sarah Brown, a Salvation Army worker. Now, if you know musicals, then you know in the end, Sky and Sarah will hook up and get their happily ever after. This particular song is when the two first admit they’re in love.

Human love is not why city folk must adore this song.

With typical Lessor style, the song begins at three a.m., with Sarah happily amazed at how different the city looks. Sky then expresses that this is the time of day he likes best and sings: “My kind of time is the dark time. A couple of deals before dawn, when the street belongs to the cop and the janitor with a mop and the grocery clerks are all gone. When the smell of the rain washed pavement comes up clean and fresh and bold. And the street lamplights line the gutters with gold.”

Those lyrics perfectly recount the special relationship that city people have with their cities. There must be a moment where they look at the metal and glass city that surrounds them and they think ‘this is mine.’

The theory holds true with any city that a person loves, and I love to sit on Taffy’s patio in Cleveland, with the aluminum roof pinging off-tune with the rain. Equally, I like finding a shielded alcove and watching rain pound the beach in Del Mar, chasing away the tourists and embracing the hard core surfers. I never really liked the rain in Santa Cruz, which goes to say something about why I left. Los Olivos and it’s Santa Ynez mountain range are glorious when it’s wet.

Above rain, however, I love snow. As I wander into October, waiting for the cold to snap back, I wonder if this year will bring snow.

Last year? Not so much with the snow. I was wearing a short sleeved shirt when I went out for Sushi in January with my friend Laura and my girlfriend (the ubiquitous Ipstenit). That sort of weather is depressing. It’s warm, it’s dark and it’s almost like having power outages in the summer.

Winter should be cold. End of story. Summer? Hot. Spring and fall, wet. That’s the way the earth was made, and so it should remain.

But today, as I sit inside my office, I can make a short trip around the corner to the row of open windows. I see the Sears Tower, looming to the northeast, a halo of clouds ringing it’s antennae. October’s fall rains wash the city grit from the buildings and streets. The smell of coffee and the brand new Krispy Kreme that opened over in the financial mart.

And I know that I’m home.

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