I love stormy weather. When the dark gray clouds roll in and the world seems to almost stop and hold it’s breath, waiting for the rain to fall, I feel like a kid again. Let me explain why.
When I was a kid, probably from about the age of 10 or 12 until I was 14 or 15, my mother would often decide to go to the mall on Sundays. I lived in a little town in rural Ohio, so going to the mall meant a half hour ride through the country to the nearest “big city”, which isn’t really all that big. Sundays always seemed to be rainy, or at least they were in my imagination.
We’d drive over early, maybe 10am, and the inky storm clouds would be reflected on the big windshield of our old Buick. A few drops might have fallen by the time we got there, but usually it was just that strange quiet that always precedes a storm. We’d get to the mall, go in either from the front or one of the big stores, and we’d spend the whole day there. We’d look at clothes, and I’d be allowed to go to my three favorite stores: the KB Toys, the Waldenbooks and the B. Daltons.
We’d eat lunch at the mall, and by the time we did it would be dark as night outside, and the rain would be falling. We’d eat our lunch and watch people running in through the rain, or scuttling out to their cars under umbrellas. The rain would slap against the glass doors, sometimes a loud roar, other times a quiet sound like tv static. Thunder would crack and we’d sometimes catch glimpses of lightning, but we were safe inside the mall, that great fortress of American consumerism.
Eventually we’d venture to the movie theater. It was outside, but there was a covered walkway from the mall entrance. You still might get a little wet, but then you were inside in the chilly theater air, and my mom would give me some quarters to play the video games in the lobby while we waited for our movie to be seated. I’d play Robotron, Congo, or, for a brief period one summer, Rastan while the lobby filled up with teenage girls in legwarmers or stirrup pants, boys wearing penny loafers with no socks and rolled up pant cuffs, wife-beaters with similarly rolled up sleeves and ridiculous gelled hair. Then we’d go see the movie, maybe two if there was something good playing, and walk back to the mall to eat some dinner.
That was the end of the day, as the sun finally faded and what little light that was filtered through the storm clouds retreated. We’d get out to the car, sometimes in pouring rain but often though nothing more than light drizzle. I would have something in a bag, maybe a new toy, maybe a few D&D books, and my mother would have her own bag with a new top or packages of underwear, or maybe a cassette tape or two from the store called Camelot that had a doorway arch that looked like a real castle.
We would drive home, sometimes stopping for ice cream on the way, sometimes not. Back in our little town, with nothing but a 13″ black and white tv to keep me company in my room, I’d read the books I’d gotten or play with the new toy and dream about the next weekend and wonder if it was going to rain.