Nowhere I've ever lived is quite as frustrating as Seattle. There's something eerie about overcast weather here--the clouds almost touch whatever makes me feel alive. Positive ions, I've been told. Whatever--there's nothing positive about them from my perspective.
I grew up with clouds on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula but they were usually accompanied by a strong wind, which made all the difference."Wind," as Rick Bass observes, "is our first excitement." It certainly was mine, and still is. It's probably why I maintain there's no such thing as bad beach weather--where there's open salt water, there's always a wind.
But Seattle is on a sound, a very well-protected finger of water, and wind isn't always sweeping in from the Pacific. Wild storms are as rare as sunlight. What is puffed gently in from the real coast is overcast weather and cat-piss rain that can go on for weeks and interminable weeks.
Yesterday I knew I'd reached my breaking point. I watched Drive--a noir flick about L.A. and the violence paled for me when I saw sunlight. The final parking lot scene took place beneath a blue sky--what was not to love? You want noir? Film that movie in Seattle and people would be jumping off bridges after seeing it. David Lynch would have taken that same material, placed it in the Puget Sound area, and would have made it impossible for me to watch past the first five minutes.
And then, just when I'm ready to push the cat into a carrying case and throw my apartment key at my landlord, the sun bursts through. The cat finds his patch of sunlight on the carpet and I find a burst of solar energy that is almost hallucinogenic in its lack of normalcy. "Maybe," I mutter with little conviction, "today I won't need to wear my wool coat." (Please bear in mind that it is mid-June.)
The sky is cloudless; the evening will be long, with light stretching past 9 p.m. This is the pay-off for the seven months of cold darkness that passes for winter in the Pacific Northwest and when it fails to happen in a timely manner, I feel cheated and very pissed off. Yes, Bangkok has its rainy season when overcast days are the norm--but this comes accompanied by thunderstorms that jolt every cell on my body and is followed by long stretches of heat-filled sunlight. Never does anyone think the bad weather is permanent; in Seattle most of us question that there will ever be anything else.
It's dominatrix weather that we suffer through here--it feels so good when it stops. When sunlight takes over for its brief seconds, like G.K. Chesterton I decide, "I think I shall not hang myself today."