The song Safer When It Rains has many meanings for me, so this will probably be one of at least two spoiler articles on this song.
The neighborhood where I grew up has gone through many changes through the years, and for a time, it became steeped in everything that accompanies poverty; drugs, crime and fear. When I finished college, I moved a neighborhood away, where I again felt safe for a time. Then it seemed that the drugs, crime and fear followed me. My brother-in-law was a police officer, serving this battered and beaten community in Philadelphia, and gave me a piece of advice. [As a general rule] “criminals don’t like to work in the rain.” Wow – what a concept! I began to think, yes, I guess if I were self-employed as a criminal, I would probably wait for the rain to stop before I go about my workday. Why work in the rain?
The concept of rain being a protective force was very counter-intuitive for me. Isn’t rain something you need to shelter AGAINST? Have you heard of The Great Flood? James Taylor saw Fire and Rain, and the suggestion seemed that it wasn’t a good thing. Barbara Streisand didn’t want to bring about a cloud to rain on her parade. The above picture shows my disappointment when rain ruined my childhood dream of going to Hershey Park, that I still have to keep on the bucket list because the bucket got filled with rain water! For crying out loud, the inky dinky spider was in deep trouble until the sun came up and dried up all the rain! Of course, there are some artists that found comfort in precipitation. Gene Kelly had a blast singing and dancing in the rain. And Prince liked the rain, but only if it was purple, and he could see you dancing in it. Eddie Rabbit loved a rainy night. But for the most part, poetically, rain normally symbolizes that same darkness that followed me from neighborhood to neighborhood. Maybe it was time I channeled Joni Mitchell and looked at clouds from both sides now.
I began to respect the rain, and as I walked through my not-so-safe neighborhood, I looked forward to the rainy days. I felt safe and protected under the cover of a veil of tears. For surely, rain is melancholy, even when it is protecting you. Throughout my life, rain has meant different things to me: puddle jumping, the picnic during Hurricane Bell (“To hell with Bell”, my father shouted at the park rangers, who wondered why this family was cowering at the one holy picnic table under the pavilion that wasn’t being hit by rain at a 180 angle), leaky apartment roofs, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the thirst of a garden, a soft summer rain that lulls you to sleep. I guess I have looked at clouds from many different sides by now. And clouds, like people, are sometimes hard to comprehend. A cloud that floods homes and ruins peoples’ lives is made of the same matter that brings a much needed rain to a farmer’s harvest.
So it is with people. It is hard to tell who’s good and who’s cruel, even though we are all made up of the same matter. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but people will disappoint you, and most times it is not intentional. And even when it may seem intentional, it probably isn’t. The rain, like most things that you can’t control, is a reminder that life carries on. Rain, like crying, can be a therapeutic release. Sometimes, you feel safer when it rains. Much safer.