Steel Tide

Dear J-

I’ll tell you a secret: I love driving in the rain. I like the way the wet pavement slips by underneath with a sussurous whispering hiss, I like the rhythmic slap of wipers, I like the way the world slides into view every few seconds and gets buried under a thousand glittering beads in the next moment. Each car trails a comet of mist, the wheels churning up a thick roiling curtain of fog and making you figuratively clutch your coat about tighter.

Today I watched someone in a BMW M5 enter the freeway and promptly start to lose it. They opened up the throttle and started immediately getting sideways, snapping back into the skid and overcompensating, making me tap the brakes to keep away; it was the first I’d seen of the BMW twitch. It’s part of rain in Southern California and its bipolar population: either you pretend that it’s not there and drive as usual, or you act like you’ve never seen rain before and gawk like yokels at moisture from the sky.

The cozy feeling inside the car — just enough heat to take the edge off the storm and maybe a fire roaring at home to look forward to. Without any leaks you’re hurtling along in a little bubble of glass and steel, watching the weather but not enslaved to it. The ebb and flow of traffic resembles a steel tide on a concrete ocean; inside your rain-slicked car you’re forced to turn your attention towards the chatter in your head, picking up all stations today.



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